Lesson Plan

New York Times Co. v Sullivan: The Alabama Case that Changed Libel Law

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Malice aforethought? Can the New York Times be held libel for false claims appearing in its ads? The Supreme Court case New York Times v Sullivan changed the interpretation of the First Amendment. Class members examine these changes and consider how these changes influenced the civil rights movement.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Classroom Considerations
  • The activities presume class members have considerable experience analyzing primary source documents, as well as the reasoning behind Supreme Court decisions
  • The 10-page packet includes links to background information, required resources, and additional materials as well as step-by-step directions for the activity
  • Some class members may need additional scaffolding to make the connection between the court case and the impact on free speech