Distinguished Lecturers
Samantha Barbas

Samantha Barbas

Samantha Barbas is Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo School of Law, where she researches and teaches in the areas of American legal history, mass media law, and First Amendment law. She is the author of seven books on legal history and mass communications history, including Actual Malice: Civil Rights and Freedom of the Press in New York Times v. Sullivan (2023) for which she received the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award; The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst, Free Speech Renegade (2021), Newsworthy: The Supreme Court Battle Over Privacy and Press Freedom (2017), Laws of Image: Privacy and Publicity in America (2015), and The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons (2005).

OAH Lectures by Samantha Barbas

This lecture discusses the history of the landmark First Amendment decision in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), which established broad protections for freedom of speech and press in libel law. It looks at current debates over the constitutional law of libel and explains how American journalism, and our political and cultural landscape more broadly, would change if Sullivan were to be overruled.

New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), which established broad protections for freedom of speech in libel law, is widely regarded to be the most important First Amendment decision in history. It was also crucial to the civil rights movement. This lecture discusses the history of Sullivan in the context of civil rights history and argues that Sullivan's protections for free expression helped enable the successes of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

There is no “hate speech law” in the United States. With the exception of speech that calls for imminent violence, hate speech is generally protected under the First Amendment. This lecture explains some of the reasons why the United States has taken a different path from the rest of the world when it comes to legal restrictions on hate speech.


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