Missouri Law Review Hosts Successful Symposium on New York Times v. Sullivan

By Anna Sago

On March 10, Mizzou Law and the School of Journalism had the honor of welcoming back former dean and renowned media law scholar Lyrissa Lidsky, alongside nine other panelists, for a Missouri Law Review Symposium about the future of New York Times v. Sullivan.

This symposium, which comes less than a year after the landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, was organized to discuss opinions authored by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch that expressed interest in re-examining the precedent set by Sullivan, which created a higher standard for public officials to bring libel suits against members of the press.

Three panels were held: a law panel, a journalism panel, and a social media panel. Panelists featured experts in both law and journalism, including renowned media lawyers, professors and experienced journalists. Each panel debated on the future of the actual malice standard, section 230 and the legal definitions of journalist and public figure.

former dean lyrissa lidsky speaks at the symposiumProfessor Lidsky, the keynote speaker for the event, presented on her role as co-reporter on the Restatement of Defamation and Privacy. This treatise, when finished, will be referenced as a comprehensive “update” on the state of defamation law, including the modern application of the decision in Sullivan.

The symposium featured light breakfast and refreshments as well as an independent lunch hour in downtown Columbia. It was held in the Smith Forum room in the journalism complex. The room was full, with a mix of professional journalists and lawyers as well as students and professors from the law and journalism schools alike.

The law school also hosted a live stream on Facebook for those who could not attend in person. That livestream is archived here for those who wish to rewatch the symposium.

Mizzou Law looks forward to continuing to engage the community in conversations about important legal topics, collaborating with other University schools and institutions, and of course, welcoming back valued former faculty.