Hustler Magazine V Falwell The Hustler Magazine Test

Hustler Magazine v. Falwell
485 U.S. 46 (1988)
Date: February 24, 1988
Court: Supreme Court of the United States
In November 1983, Hustler magazine ran a parody of an advertisement mimicking an actual ad campaign. The parody featured a well-known fundamentalist Protestant minister, Jerry Falwell promoting an alcoholic drink and having a drunken incestuous encounter with his mother in an outhouse.
Falwell sued Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia for libel, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury favored Flynt on claims of libel and Falwell on the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Falwell was awarded $150,000 in damages.
Flynt appealed to the Fourth Circuit, but the court rejected Flynt’s actual malice standard of the New York Times v. Sullivan case. The court claimed the New York Times case focused too much on the truth of the statement for Flynt’s case. The Fourth Circuit refused to rehear the case en banc and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear.
The Supreme Court ruled that because the parody did not make false statements that were implied to be true, it could not be the subject of damages based of the actual malice standards. The court reversed the judgment of the Forth Circuit.

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