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1.

BADOY, JR. V. COMELEC, 35 SCRA 228 (1970)

Facts: Anacleto D. Badoy, Jr. avers that he is a candidate for delegate to the
Constitutional Convention for the lone district of North Cotabato. He prays that
Section 12(F) of RA 6132 be declared unconstitutional as the same denies
individuals, who are not candidates, their freedom of speech and of the press; and
candidates the right to speak and write, discuss and debate in favor of their
candidacies or against the candidacies of others. Section 12 (F) provides that the
Comelec shall endeavor to obtain free space from newspapers, magazines and
periodicals which shall be known as Comelec space, and shall allocate this space
equally and impartially among all candidates within the areas in which the
newspapers are circulated. Outside of said Comelec space, it shall be unlawful to
print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any advertisement, paid
comment or paid article in furtherance of or in opposition to the candidacy of any
person for delegate, or mentioning the name of any candidate and the fact of his
candidacy, unless all the names of all other candidates in the district in which the
candidate is running are also mentioned with equal prominence. Comelec
Resolution RR-724, as amended, merely restates the ban in Section 12 (F).
Issue: Whether the ban in Section 12 (F) is valid or constitutional.
Held: Under Section 12 (F), the moneyed candidate or individual who can afford
to pay for advertisements, comments or articles in favor of his candidacy or
against the candidacy of another or which mention his name and the fact of his
candidacy, is required to mention all the other candidates in the same district with
equal prominence, to exempt him from the penal sanction of the law. The evident
purpose of the limitation is to give the poor candidates a fighting chance in the
election. The restriction is only one of the measures devised by the law to
preserve suffrage pure and undefiled and to achieve the desired equality of
chances among all the candidates. Considering the foregoing limitation in Section
12(F) in the light of the other provisions of RA 6132 designed to maximize, if not
approximate, equality of chances among the various candidates in the same
district, the said restriction on the freedom of expression appears too insignificant
to create any appreciable dent on the individuals liberty of expression. It should
be noted that Section 8(a) of the same law, prohibiting political parties from aiding
candidates and thus was more restrictive than Section 12(F), was previously
upheld to be valid. The limitation in Section 12(F) is a reasoned and reasonable
judgment on the part of Congress. It is not unconstitutional.
2.

NEW YORK TIMES CO. V. US, 403 US 713 (1971)

Facts: In 1971, during rising tensions over the undeclared Vietnam War, the New
York Times attained top-secret articles based on the 1968 study, History of U.S.
Decision Making Process on Viet Nam Policy. The New York Times analyzed the
articles for several months, and on June 13, 1971, it began publication. After the
third set of articles was published, the Department of Justice sought an injunction
to halt any further publication. The next day, the United States obtained a
restraining order prohibiting further publication until June 19.
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

Shortly after, the District Court denied the governments request for a preliminary
injunction, but a Circuit Court judge prolonged the restraining order to give the
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia adequate time to consider the
governments case. On June 22, the Circuit Court remanded the case to the trial
court for determination of whether any of the future publications posed such
grave and immediate danger to the security of the country as to warrant prior
restraint and a continued stay of publication. The New York Times appealed the
Circuit Courts decision to the Supreme Court.
Issue: Is the First Amendment violated when the United States, during wartime,
prohibits a newspaper from publishing sensitive articles which may cause security
concerns for the United States?
Holding: Yes. [6-3; Majority: J. Black, J. Douglas, J. Brennan, J. Stewart, J.
White, J. Marshall. Minority: C.J. Burger, J. Harlan, J. Blackman]
Per Curiam Decision: The decision of the Court stated that the government
carries a heavy burden of providing justification for restraining the freedom of
expression granted by the Constitution. The lower courts held that the
government had not met that burden, with which the Supreme Court agreed.
Thus, the order of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was affirmed
and the stays entered on June 25, 1971, were vacated.
Majority Opinions: Justices Black and Douglas wrote joint concurring opinions in
which they condemned the governments actions, calling it a flagrant,
indefensible, and continuing violation of the First Amendment. Black and
Douglas stated that the language of the First Amendment is clear and supports
the view that the press must be left free to publish news, whatever the source,
without censorship, injunctions or prior restraints. They further concluded that to
give the President the power to withhold certain articles from the press would
wipe out the First Amendment and destroy the fundamental liberty and security of
the very people the government hopes to make secure. Lastly, Black and
Douglas discussed the issue of governmental secrecy, calling it anti-democratic,
and noted that, open debate and discussion of public issues are vital to our
nations health.
Justices Stewart and White joined in concurring opinions. They held that an
alert, aware, and free press most critically serves the purpose of the First
Amendment. Further, they reasoned that in the absence of an informed and free
press, there cannot be enlightened people. Finally, Stewart and White argued
that while a need for secrecy exists in many national defense issues the
responsibility must be where the power is. Since the Executive is given a large,
unshared power in foreign affairs and national security, its duty must be to
determine and preserve the degree of internal security necessary to exercise that
power successfully.
The majority clearly frowned on the actions of the Executive. The six concurring
Justices in this case agreed that issuing an injunction, a prior restraint, would be a
harsh violation of the First Amendment regardless of the secret nature of the
proposed publishings.
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Dissenting Opinions: Chief Justice Burger wrote the first dissent, stating, "the
First Amendment right itself is not an absolute." He argued that the First
Amendment does not protect situations where secret, stolen articles are published
by a newspaper. He concluded that since First Amendment absolutism had never
commanded a majority of the Supreme Court, it need not protect these types of
cases involving stolen materials.

ISSUES: W/N the memoranda can be declared unconstitutional for being a prior
restraint
W/N Laxamana was denied due process when she was relieved as Director of
Publication
HELD:
1.

Burger continued his opinion scorning the New York Times for its lack of
responsibility in dealing with the "illegally acquired" materials. Burger contended
that it would have not been unreasonable or inconvenient for the New York Times
to consult with the government before publishing, especially since the newspaper
could have easily anticipated the government's reaction. Burger found it "hardly
believable" that a respected newspaper would fail to act upon one of the "basic
and simple duties of every citizen" in regard to the discovery of possession of
stolen property.

2.

Following Burger, Justices Harlan and Blackmun dissented, stating that Article II
of the Constitution grants the Executive narrowly restricted powers in foreign
affairs. Quoting John Marshall that, "the President is the sole organ of the nation
in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations," Harlan
and Blackmun concluded that disabling the Executive from enjoining the
publication of stolen government documents would be a violation of the powers
granted to it by the Constitution.
3.

LAXAMANA V. BORLAZA, 47 SCRA (29 (1972)

FACTS: The Torch and the Torche Newsette are monthly student organs of the
PNC. Some items were viewed as unkind, discourteous and unfair so the then
president of PNC, Ramirez, issued a memo to Laxamana as the Director of
Publications, to exercise more care in guiding the students in the preparation of
the articles. He said that it would be desirable if Laxamana would have the page
proofs gone over before they were printed. Mr. Dagot, a representative of the
PNC President, would proofread the articles. A second memo was issued
regarding such instructions, and requested the new Board of Management to
restudy the policies of the editorial practices of the Torch.
Laxamana filed a complaint against the PNC President as violative of Article III,
Section 1 and Article XIV, Sections 4 & 5, saying that the memoranda should be
annulled because they abridge the fundamental liberties of thought, speech and
press. She also alleged that the PNC President was bent on removing her as
Director of Publications. And before the President filed an answer, Laxamana was
indeed and advised to switch to being a full-time teacher.
Laxamana wanted the memoranda (particularly the one which requires Mr. Dagot
to proofread the articles before they were printed) to be declared unconstitutional
and to be reinstated as Director of Publications.

MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

4.

No. The SC failed to see how such a request, coming from the head of
PNC, could be considered as an abridgment of the fundamental liberties
of thought, speech, press and academic freedom. The restudy (second
memo) was design to improve editorial practices, which the President
felt, did not come up to acceptable standards of fairness. At that stage,
there was yet n o actionable violation, or even threat of violation, of the
constitutional liberties.
No. There was no position in the official plantilla of PNC as Director of
Publications. She was merely designated to be such, and it wasnt a
permanent appointment. It cannot be said that she was illegally removed
there from when she was directed to assume a full-teaching job as
Associate Professor II.

CORRO V. LISING, 137 SCRA 541 (1985)

Facts: On September 29, 1983, respondent QC RTC judge Esteban Lising, upon
application filed by Lt. Col. Berlin Castillo of the Philippine Constabulary Criminal
Investigation Service, a search warrant authorizing the search and seizure of
(1) Printed copies of Philippine Times; (2) Manuscripts/drafts of articles for
publication in the Philippine Times; (3) Newspaper dummies of the Philippine
Times; (4) Subversive documents, articles, printed matters, handbills, leaflets,
banners; (5) Typewriters, duplicating machines, mimeographing and tape
recording machines, video machines and tapes which have been used and are
being used as instrument and means of committing the crime of inciting to
sedition defined and penalized under Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended by PD 1835.
On November 6, 1984, petitioner filed an urgent motion to recall warrant and to
return documents/personal properties alleging among others that: (1) the
properties seized are typewriters, duplicating machines, mimeographing and tape
recording machines, video machines and tapes which are not in any way,
inanimate or mute things as they are, connected with the offense of inciting to
sedition; (2) the documents or papers seized purporting to do the body of the
crime has been rendered moot and academic due to the findings of the Agrava
Board that a military conspiracy was responsible for the slaying of the late
Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. on August 21, 1983 at the Manila International Airport
[note: The Agrava Board which has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the
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facts and circumstances behind the killing had virtually affirmed by evidence
testamentary and documentary the fact that soldiers killed Benigno Aquino, Jr].
On January 28, 1985, respondent Judge Lising denied the motion by saying that
the articles presently form part of the evidence of the prosecution and they are not
under the control of the prosecuting arm of the government. Under these
circumstances, the proper forum from which the petition to withdraw the articles
should be addressed, is the Office of the City Fiscal, Quezon City. Hence, this
petition.
Issues:
1. Whether or not the search warrant issued by respondent Judge Esteban M.
Lising should be declared null and void ab initio? YES
2. Whether or not a mandatory injunction should be issued directing respondents
to jointly and severally to return immediately the documents/properties illegally
seized from herein petitioner? YES
3. Whether or not a final injunction should be issued enjoining respondents from
utilizing said documents/properties as evidence in a criminal case; and (b) that
respondent officers be directed to reopen the padlocked office premises of the
Philippine Times? YES
Held: The search warrant issued by respondent judge allowed seizure of printed
copies of the Philippine Times, manuscripts/drafts of articles for publication,
newspaper dummies, subversive documents, articles, etc., and even typewriters,
duplicating machines, mimeographing and tape recording machines. Thus, the
language used is so all embracing as to include all conceivable records and
equipment of petitioner regardless of whether they are legal or illegal. The search
warrant under consideration was in the nature of a general warrant which is
constitutionally objectionable.
Respondents do not deny the fact that the business office of the "Philippine
Times" of which petitioner was the publisher-editor was padlocked and sealed.
The consequence is, the printing and publication of said newspaper were
discontinued. In Burgos, Sr. vs. Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, supra, We held that "such closure is in the nature of previous restraint
or censorship abhorrent to the freedom of the press guaranteed under the
fundamental law, and constitutes a virtual denial of petitioners' freedom to express
themselves in print. This state of being is patently anathematic to a democratic
framework where a free, alert and even militant press is essential for the political
enlightenment and growth of the citizenry."

MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

Section 3, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution provides:


SEC. 3. ...no search warrant or warrant of arrest issue except upon probable
cause to be determined by the judge, or such other responsible officer as may be
authorized by law, after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant
and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be
searched and the persons or things to be seized.
and, Section 3, Rule 126 of the New Rules of Court, states that:
SEC. 3. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue
but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined
by the judge or justice of the peace after examination under oath or affirmation of
the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing
the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Thus, an application for search warrant must state with particularly the alleged
subversive materials published or intended to be published by the publisher and
editor of the Philippine Times, Rommel Corro. As stated in Burgos, Sr. vs. Chief of
Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, "mere generalization will not suffice."
A search warrant should particularly describe the place to be searched and the
things to be seized. "The evident purpose and intent of this requirement is to limit
the things to be seized to those, and only those, particularly described in the
search warrant- to leave the officers of the law with no discretion regarding what
articles they should seize, to the end that unreasonable searches and seizures
may not be committed, that abuses may not be committed Bache & Co. Phil.
Inc. vs, Ruiz, supra)."
The affidavit of Col. Castillo states that in several issues of the Philippine Times:
we found that the said publication in fact foments distrust and hatred against the
government of the Philippines and its duly constituted authorities, defined and
penalized by Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Presidential
Decree No. 1835 and, the affidavit of Lt. Ignacio reads, among others the said
periodical published by Rommel Corro, contains articles tending to incite distrust
and hatred for the Government of the Philippines or any of its duly constituted
authorities.
The above statements are mere conclusions of law and will not satisfy the
requirements of probable cause. They can not serve as basis for the issuance of
search warrant, absent of the existence of probable cause. In fact, as a
consequence of the search warrant issued, the items confiscated from the
premises of the office of the Philippine Times at 610 Mezzanine Floor, Gochengco
Bldg., T.M. Kalaw, Ermita, Manila were the following: (1) One bundle of assorted
negative; (2) One bundle of assorted lay out; (3) Three folders of assorted
articles/writings used by Philippine Times news and other paraphernalias; (4) Four
tapes of speeches of certain mayors; (5) One bundle Dummies; (6) Ten bundles of
assorted copies of Philippine Times issued on different dates; (7) two typewriters;
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(8) Three bundles of Philippine Times latest issue for Baguio City.

5.

EASTERN BROADCASTING CORP. (DYRE) V. DANS, JR., 137 SCRA 628


(1985)

Facts: A petition was filed to reopen the Radio Station DYRE. DYRE was
summarily closed on grounds of national security. The radio station was
allegedly used to incite people to sedition. Petitioner, DYRE contends that they
were denied due process. There was no hearing to establish factual evidence for
the closure. Furthermore, the closure of the radio station violates freedom of
expression. Before the court could even promulgate a decision upon the Issue
raised, Petitioner, through its president Mr. Rene Espina, filed a motion to
withdraw the petition. The rights of the station were sold to a new owner, Manuel
Pastrana; who is no longer interested in pursuing the case. Despite the case
becoming moot and academic, (because there are no longer interested parties,
thus the dismissal of the case) the Supreme Court still finds that there is need to
pass a RESOLUTION for the guidance of inferior courts and administrative
tribunals in matters as this case
Issues:
(1) Whether or not due process was exercised in the case of DYRE.
(2) Whether or not the closure of DYRE is a violation of the Constitutional Right of
Freedom of Expression.
Held: The court finds that the closure of the Radio Station in 1980 as null and
void. The absence of a hearing is a violation of Constitutional Rights. The primary
requirements in administrative proceedings are laid down in the case of Ang Tibay
v. Court of Industrial Relation (69 Phil.635). The Ang Tibay Doctrine should be
followed before any broadcast station may be closed. The Ang Tibay Doctrine
provides the following requirements:
(1) The right to hearing, includes the right to present ones case and submit
evidence presented.
(2) The tribunal must consider the evidence presented
(3) The decision must have something to support itself.
(4) Evidence must be substantial (reasonable evidence that is adequate to
support conclusion)
(5) Decision must be based on the evidence presented at hearing
(6) The tribunal body must act on its own independent consideration of law and
facts and not simply accept subordinates views
(7) Court must render decision in such a manner that the proceeding can know
the various issued involved and reasons for decisions rendered.
The court stresses that while there is no controlling and precise definition of Due
Process, it gives an unavoidable standard that government actions must conform
in order that deprivation of life, liberty and property is valid.

MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

The closure of the radio station is like wise a violation of the constitutional right of
freedom of speech and expression. The court stresses that all forms of media,
whether print or broadcast are entitled to this constitutional right. Although the
government still has the right to be protected against broadcasts which incite the
listeners to violently overthrow it. The test for the limitation of freedom of
expression is the clear and present danger rule. If in the circumstances that the
media is used in such nature as to create this danger that will bring in such evils,
then the law has the right to prevent it. However, Radio and television may not be
used to organize a rebellion or signal a start of widespread uprising. The freedom
to comment on public affairs is essential to the vitality of a representative
democracy. The people continues to have the right to be informed on public affairs
and broadcast media continues to have the pervasive influence to the people
being the most accessible form of media. Therefore, broadcast stations deserve
the the special protection given to all forms of media by the due process and
freedom of expression clauses of the Constitution.
6.

SANIDAD V. COMELEC, 181 SCRA 529 (1990)

Facts: On October 23, 1989, Republic Act No. 6766, entitled "AN ACT
PROVIDING FOR AN ORGANIC ACT FOR THE CORDILLERA AUTONOMOUS
REGION" was enacted into law. Pursuant to said law, the City of Baguio and the
Cordilleras, shall take part in a plebiscite for the ratification of said Organic Act.
The Commission on Elections, by virtue of the power vested by the 1987
Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code (BP 881), said R.A. 6766 and other
pertinent election laws, promulgated Resolution No. 2167, to govern the conduct
of the plebiscite on the said Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
Petitioner Pablito V. Sanidad, who claims to be a newspaper columnist of the
"OVERVIEW" for the BAGUIO MIDLAND COURIER, a weekly newspaper
circulated in the City of Baguio and the Cordilleras, assailed the constitutionality of
Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167, which provides:
Section 19. Prohibition on columnists, commentators or announcers. During
the plebiscite campaign period, on the day before and on the plebiscite day, no
mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality shall use his
column or radio or television time to campaign for or against the plebiscite issues.
It is alleged by petitioner that said provision is void and unconstitutional because it
violates the constitutional guarantees of the freedom of expression and of the
press enshrined in the Constitution.
Petitioner believes that said provision of COMELEC Resolution No. 2167
constitutes a prior restraint on his constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of the
press and further imposes subsequent punishment for those who may violate it
because it contains a penal provision, as follows:
Article XIII, Section 122, Election Offenses and Banned Acts or Activities.
Except to the extent that the same may not be applicable plebiscite. the banned
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acts/activities and offenses defined in and penalized by the Omnibus Election


Code ('Sections 261, 262, 263 and Article' XXII, B.P. Blg. 881) and the pertinent
provisions of R.A. No. 6646 shall be applicable to the plebiscite governed by this
Resolution.
Petitioner likewise maintains that if media practitioners were to express their
views, beliefs and opinions on the issue submitted to a plebiscite, it would in fact
help in the government drive and desire to disseminate information, and hear, as
well as ventilate, all sides of the issue.
Respondent Comelec maintains that the questioned provision of Comelec
Resolution No. 2167 is not violative of the constitutional guarantees of the
freedom of expression and of the press. Rather it is a valid implementation of the
power of the Comelec to supervise and regulate media during election or
plebiscite periods as enunciated in Article IX-C, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution
of the Republic of the Philippines.
It is stated further by respondent that Resolution 2167 does not absolutely bar
petitioner from expressing his views and/or from campaigning for or against the
Organic Act. He may still express his views or campaign for or against the act
through the Comelec space and airtime.
Respondent Comelec has relied much on Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution
and Section 11 of R.A. 6646 as the basis for the promulgation of the questioned
Section 19 of Comelec Resolution 2167.
Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution provides:
The Commission may, during the election period, supervise or regulate the
enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of
transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, all
grants, special privileges, or concessions granted by the Government or any
subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned
or controlled corporation or its subsidiary. Such supervision or regulation shall aim
to ensure equal opportunity, time, and space, and the right to reply, including
reasonable, equal rates therefor, for public information campaigns and forums
among candidates in connection with the objective of holding free, orderly,
honest, peaceful and credible elections.
Similarly, Section 11 of Republic Act No. 6646 (The Electoral Reform Law of
1987) likewise provides:
Prohibited forms of election Propaganda. In addition to the forms of election
propaganda prohibited under Section 85 of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 881, it shall be unlawful: ...
(b) for any newspaper, radio, broadcasting or television station, or other mass
media, or any person making use of the mass media to sell or to give free of
charge print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes except to
the Commission as provided under Sections 90 and 92 of Batas Pambansa Blg.
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

881. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, or personality who is a


candidate for any elective office shall take a leave of absence from his work as
such during the campaign period.
Issue: W/N COMELEC Resolution No. 2167 is constitutional
Held: It is clear from Art. IX-C of the 1987 Constitution that what was granted to
the Comelec was the power to supervise and regulate the use and enjoyment of
franchises, permits or other grants issued for the operation of transportation or
other public utilities, media of communication or information to the end that equal
opportunity, time and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable, equal
rates therefor, for public information campaigns and forums among candidates are
ensured. The evil sought to be prevented by this provision is the possibility that a
franchise holder may favor or give any undue advantage to a candidate in terms
of advertising space or radio or television time. This is also the reason why a
"columnist, commentator, announcer or personality, who is a candidate for any
elective office is required to take a leave of absence from his work during the
campaign period (2nd par. Section 11(b) R.A. 6646).
However, neither Article IX-C of the Constitution nor Section 11 (b), 2nd par. of
R.A. 6646 can be construed to mean that the Comelec has also been granted the
right to supervise and regulate the exercise by media practitioners themselves of
their right to expression during plebiscite periods. Media practitioners exercising
their freedom of expression during plebiscite periods are neither the franchise
holders nor the candidates. In fact, there are no candidates involved in a
plebiscite. Therefore, Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 has no
statutory basis.
While the limitation does not absolutely bar petitioner's freedom of expression, it is
still a restriction on his choice of the forum where he may express his view. No
reason was advanced by respondent to justify such abridgement. We hold that
this form of regulation is tantamount to a restriction of petitioner's freedom of
expression for no justifiable reason.
Plebiscite issues are matters of public concern and importance. The people's right
to be informed and to be able to freely and intelligently make a decision would be
better served by access to an unabridged discussion of the issues, including the
forum.
The instant petition is granted. Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 is
declared null and void and unconstitutional.
7.

NPC V. COMELEC, 207 SCRA 1 (1992)

Facts: Petitioners in these cases consist of representatives of the mass media


which are prevented from selling or donating space and time for political
advertisements; two (2) individuals who are candidates for office (one for national
and the other for provincial office) in the coming May 1992 elections; and
taxpayers and voters who claim that their right to be informed of election Issue
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and of credentials of the candidates is being curtailed. It is principally argued by


petitioners that Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 66461 invades and violates the
constitutional guarantees comprising freedom of expression. Petitioners maintain
that the prohibition imposed by Section 11 (b) amounts to censorship, because it
selects and singles out for suppression and repression with criminal sanctions,
only publications of a particular content, namely, media-based election or political
propaganda during the election period of 1992. It is asserted that the prohibition is
in derogation of media's role, function and duty to provide adequate channels of
public information and public opinion relevant to election Issue. Further,
petitioners contend that Section 11 (b) abridges the freedom of speech of
candidates, and that the suppression of media-based campaign or political
propaganda except those appearing in the Comelec space of the newspapers and
on Comelec time of radio and television broadcasts, would bring about a
substantial reduction in the quantity or volume of information concerning
candidates and Issue in the election thereby curtailing and limiting the right of
voters to information and opinion.

any report or commentary other coverage that, in responsible media, is not paid
for by candidates for political office. Section 11 (b) as designed to cover only paid
political advertisements of particular candidates.
The limiting impact of Section 11 (b) upon the right to free speech of the
candidates themselves is not unduly repressive or unreasonable.
8.

BLO UMPAR ADIONG V. COMELEC, 207 SCRA 712 (1992)

Facts: On January 13, 1992, the COMELEC promulgated Resolution No. 2347
pursuant to its powers granted by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code,
Republic Acts Nos. 6646 and 7166 and other election laws.
Section 15(a) of the resolution provides:
Sec. 15. Lawful Election Propaganda. The following are lawful election
propaganda:

Issue: Whether or Not Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 6646 constitutional.
Held: Yes. It seems a modest proposition that the provision of the Bill of Rights
which enshrines freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the
press has to be taken in conjunction with Article IX (C) (4) which may be seen to
be a special provision applicable during a specific limited period i.e., "during
the election period." In our own society, equality of opportunity to proffer oneself
for public office, without regard to the level of financial resources that one may
have at one's disposal, is clearly an important value. One of the basic state
policies given constitutional rank by Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution is the
egalitarian demand that "the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities
for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law." The
essential question is whether or not the assailed legislative or administrative
provisions constitute a permissible exercise of the power of supervision or
regulation of the operations of communication and information enterprises during
an election period, or whether such act has gone beyond permissible supervision
or regulation of media operations so as to constitute unconstitutional repression of
freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The Court considers that Section 11
(b) has not gone outside the permissible bounds of supervision or regulation of
media operations during election periods.
Section 11 (b) is limited in the duration of its applicability and enforceability. By
virtue of the operation of Article IX (C) (4) of the Constitution, Section 11 (b) is
limited in its applicability in time to election periods. Section 11 (b) does not
purport in any way to restrict the reporting by newspapers or radio or television
stations of news or news-worthy events relating to candidates, their qualifications,
political parties and programs of government. Moreover, Section 11 (b) does not
reach commentaries and expressions of belief or opinion by reporters or
broadcasters or editors or commentators or columnists in respect of candidates,
their qualifications, and programs and so forth, so long at least as such
comments, opinions and beliefs are not in fact advertisements for particular
candidates covertly paid for. In sum, Section 11 (b) is not to be read as reaching
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

(a) Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals Provided, That decals and stickers may
be posted only in any of the authorized posting areas provided in paragraph (f) of
Section 21 hereof.
Section 21 (f) of the same resolution provides:
Sec. 21(f). Prohibited forms of election propaganda.
It is unlawful:
(f) To draw, paint, inscribe, post, display or publicly exhibit any election
propaganda in any place, whether public or private, mobile or stationary, except in
the COMELEC common posted areas and/or billboards
Petitioner Blo Umpar Adiong, a senatorial candidate in the May 11, 1992 elections
assails the COMELEC's Resolution insofar as it prohibits the posting of decals
and stickers in "mobile" places like cars and other moving vehicles. According to
him such prohibition is violative of Section 82 of the Omnibus Election Code and
Section 11(a) of Republic Act No. 6646.
Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC may prohibit the posting of decals and
stickers on "mobile" places, public or private, and limit their location or publication
to the authorized posting areas that it fixes.
Held: The petition is hereby GRANTED. The portion of Section 15 (a) of
Resolution No. 2347 of the COMELEC providing that "decals and stickers may be
posted only in any of the authorized posting areas provided in paragraph (f) of
Section 21 hereof" is DECLARED NULL and VOID.
The COMELEC's prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on "mobile" places
whether public or private except in designated areas provided for by the
6

COMELEC itself is null and void on constitutional grounds.


The prohibition unduly infringes on the citizen's fundamental right of free speech
enshrined in the Constitution (Sec. 4, Article III). Significantly, the freedom of
expression curtailed by the questioned prohibition is not so much that of the
candidate or the political party. The regulation strikes at the freedom of an
individual to express his preference and, by displaying it on his car, to convince
others to agree with him.
Also, the questioned prohibition premised on the statute (RA 6646) and as
couched in the resolution is void for overbreadth. The restriction as to where the
decals and stickers should be posted is so broad that it encompasses even the
citizen's private property, which in this case is a privately-owned vehicle (The
provisions allowing regulation are so loosely worded that they include the posting
of decals or stickers in the privacy of one's living room or bedroom.) In
consequence of this prohibition, another cardinal rule prescribed by the
Constitution would be violated. Section 1, Article III of the Bill of Rights provides
that no person shall be deprived of his property without due process of law. (The
right to property may be subject to a greater degree of regulation but when this
right is joined by a "liberty" interest, the burden of justification on the part of the
Government must be exceptionally convincing and irrefutable. The burden is not
met in this case.)
Additionally, the constitutional objective to give a rich candidate and a poor
candidate equal opportunity to inform the electorate as regards their candidacies,
mandated by Article II, Section 26 and Article XIII, section 1 in relation to Article IX
(c) Section 4 of the Constitution, is not impaired by posting decals and stickers on
cars and other private vehicles. It is to be reiterated that the posting of decals and
stickers on cars, calesas, tricycles, pedicabs and other moving vehicles needs the
consent of the owner of the vehicle. Hence, the preference of the citizen becomes
crucial in this kind of election propaganda not the financial resources of the
candidate.
In sum, the prohibition on posting of decals and stickers on "mobile" places
whether public or private except in the authorized areas designated by the
COMELEC becomes censorship which cannot be justified by the Constitution:
Notes:

A statute is considered void for overbreadth when "it offends the


constitutional principle that a governmental purpose to control or prevent
activities constitutionally subject to state regulations may not be achieved by
means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of
protected freedoms

Property is more than the mere thing which a person owns, it includes the
right to acquire, use, and dispose of it; and the Constitution

The posting of decals and stickers in mobile places like cars and other
moving vehicles does not endanger any substantial government interest.
There is no clear public interest threatened by such activity so as to justify the
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

curtailment of the cherished citizen's right of free speech and expression.


Under the clear and present danger rule not only must the danger be patently
clear and pressingly present but the evil sought to be avoided must be so
substantive as to justify a clamp over one's mouth or a writing instrument to
be stilled.
9.

TOLENTINO V. SECRETARY OF FINANCE, 235 SCRA 630 (1994)

Facts: The value-added tax (VAT) is levied on the sale, barter or exchange of
goods and properties as well as on the sale or exchange of services. RA 7716
seeks to widen the tax base of the existing VAT system and enhance its
administration by amending the National Internal Revenue Code. There are
various suits challenging the constitutionality of RA 7716 on various grounds.
One contention is that RA 7716 did not originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives as required by Art. VI, Sec. 24 of the Constitution, because it is in
fact the result of the consolidation of 2 distinct bills, H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630.
There is also a contention that S. No. 1630 did not pass 3 readings as required by
the Constitution.
Issue: Whether or not RA 7716 violates Art. VI, Secs. 24 and 26(2) of the
Constitution
Held: The argument that RA 7716 did not originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives as required by Art. VI, Sec. 24 of the Constitution will not bear
analysis. To begin with, it is not the law but the revenue bill which is required by
the Constitution to originate exclusively in the House of Representatives. To insist
that a revenue statute and not only the bill which initiated the legislative process
culminating in the enactment of the law must substantially be the same as the
House bill would be to deny the Senates power not only to concur with
amendments but also to propose amendments. Indeed, what the Constitution
simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff or tax bills, bills
authorizing an increase of the public debt, private bills and bills of local application
must come from the House of Representatives on the theory that, elected as they
are from the districts, the members of the House can be expected to be more
sensitive to the local needs and problems. Nor does the Constitution prohibit the
filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from
the House, so long as action by the Senate as a body is withheld pending receipt
of the House bill.
The next argument of the petitioners was that S. No. 1630 did not pass 3 readings
on separate days as required by the Constitution because the second and third
readings were done on the same day. But this was because the President had
certified S. No. 1630 as urgent. The presidential certification dispensed with the
requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days.
That upon the certification of a bill by the President the requirement of 3 readings
on separate days and of printing and distribution can be dispensed with is
supported by the weight of legislative practice.
7

10. PPI V. COMELEC, 244 SCRA 275 (1995)


Facts: Respondent Comelec promulgated Resolution No. 2772 directing
newspapers to provide free Comelec space of not less than one-half page for the
common use of political parties and candidates. The Comelec space shall be
allocated by the Commission, free of charge, among all candidates to enable
them to make known their qualifications, their stand on public Issue and their
platforms of government. The Comelec space shall also be used by the
Commission for dissemination of vital election information.
Petitioner Philippine Press Institute, Inc. (PPI), a non-profit organization of
newspaper and magazine publishers, asks the Supreme Court to declare
Comelec Resolution No. 2772 unconstitutional and void on the ground that it
violates the prohibition imposed by the Constitution upon the government against
the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. On behalf
of the respondent Comelec, the Solicitor General claimed that the Resolution is a
permissible exercise of the power of supervision (police power) of the Comelec
over the information operations of print media enterprises during the election
period to safeguard and ensure a fair, impartial and credible election.
Issue: Whether or not Comelec Resolution No. 2772 is unconstitutional.
Held: The Supreme Court declared the Resolution as unconstitutional. It held that
to compel print media companies to donate Comelec space amounts to taking
of private personal property without payment of the just compensation required in
expropriation cases. Moreover, the element of necessity for the taking has not
been established by respondent Comelec, considering that the newspapers were
not unwilling to sell advertising space. The taking of private property for public use
is authorized by the constitution, but not without payment of just compensation.
Also Resolution No. 2772 does not constitute a valid exercise of the police power
of the state. In the case at bench, there is no showing of existence of a national
emergency to take private property of newspaper or magazine publishers.
11. IGLESIA NI CRISTO V. CA, 259 SCRA 529 (1996)
Facts: Petitioner has a television program entitled "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo" aired on
Channel 2 every Saturday and on Channel 13 every Sunday. The program
presents and propagates petitioner's religious beliefs, doctrines and practices
often times in comparative studies with other religions. Petitioner submitted to the
respondent Board of Review for Moving Pictures and Television the VTR tapes of
its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and 128. The Board classified the series
as "X" or not for public viewing on the ground that they "offend and constitute an
attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law." On November
28, 1992, it appealed to the Office of the President the classification of its TV
Series No. 128 which allowed it through a letter of former Executive Secretary
Edelmiro A. Amante, Sr., addressed for Henrietta S. Mendez reversing the
decision of the respondent Board. According to the letter the episode in is
protected by the constitutional guarantee of free speech and expression and no
indication that the episode poses any clear and present danger. Petitioner also
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

filed Civil Case. Petitioner alleged that the respondent Board acted without
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in requiring petitioner to submit the
VTR tapes of its TV program and in x-rating them. It cited its TV Program Series
Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. In their Answer, respondent Board invoked its power
under PD No. 19861 in relation to Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code. The
Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our
(Catholic) veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be condoned because nowhere it
is found in the bible. The board contended that it outrages Catholic and
Protestant's beliefs. RTC ruled in favor of petitioners. CA however reversed it
hence this petition.
Issue: Whether or Not the "ang iglesia ni cristo" program is not constitutionally
protected as a form of religious exercise and expression.
Held: Yes. Any act that restrains speech is accompanied with presumption of
invalidity. It is the burden of the respondent Board to overthrow this presumption.
If it fails to discharge this burden, its act of censorship will be struck down. This is
true in this case. So-called "attacks" are mere criticisms of some of the deeply
held dogmas and tenets of other religions. RTCs ruling clearly suppresses
petitioner's freedom of speech and interferes with its right to free exercise of
religion. attack is different from offend any race or religion. The respondent
Board may disagree with the criticisms of other religions by petitioner but that
gives it no excuse to interdict such criticisms, however, unclean they may be.
Under our constitutional scheme, it is not the task of the State to favor any religion
by protecting it against an attack by another religion. Religious dogmas and
beliefs are often at war and to preserve peace among their followers, especially
the fanatics, the establishment clause of freedom of religion prohibits the State
from leaning towards any religion. Respondent board cannot censor the speech of
petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other religions, even if said
religion happens to be the most numerous church in our country. The basis of
freedom of religion is freedom of thought and it is best served by encouraging the
marketplace of dueling ideas. It is only where it is unavoidably necessary to
prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the
community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the
smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger. There is no showing whatsoever of
the type of harm the tapes will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of
the threatened harm. Prior restraint on speech, including religious speech, cannot
be justified by hypothetical fears but only by the showing of a substantive and
imminent evil. It is inappropriate to apply the clear and present danger test to the
case at bar because the issue involves the content of speech and not the time,
place or manner of speech. Allegedly, unless the speech is first allowed, its impact
cannot be measured, and the causal connection between the speech and the evil
apprehended cannot be established. The determination of the question as to
whether or not such vilification, exaggeration or fabrication falls within or lies
outside the boundaries of protected speech or expression is a judicial function
which cannot be arrogated by an administrative body such as a Board of
Censors." A system of prior restraint may only be validly administered by judges
and not left to administrative agencies.
8

12. NEAR V. MINNESOTA, 283 US 697 (1931)


Facts: In 1927, Jay M. Near, who has been described as "anti-Catholic, antiSemitic, anti-black and anti-labor began publishing The Saturday Press in
Minneapolis with Howard A. Guilford, a former mayoral candidate who had been
convicted of criminal libel.
The paper claimed that Jewish gangs were "practically ruling" the city along with
the police chief, Frank W. Brunskill, who was accused of participation in graft.
Among the paper's other targets were mayor George E. Leach, Hennepin County
attorney and future three-term governor Floyd B. Olson, and the members of the
grand jury of Hennepin County, who the paper claimed were either incompetent or
willfully failing to investigate and prosecute known criminal activity.
Shortly after the first issue was distributed, Guilford was gunned down and
hospitalized, where a further attempt on his life was made. At least one of the
stories printed in The Saturday Press led to a successful prosecution of a
gangster called Big Mose Barnett who had intimidated a local dry cleaner by
destroying his customers' clothing.
First trial court proceeding: Olson filed a complaint against Near and Guilford
under the Public Nuisance Law of 1925.Also known as the "Minnesota Gag Law",
it provided permanent injunctions against those who created a "public nuisance,"
by publishing, selling, or distributing a "malicious, scandalous and defamatory
newspaper." Olson claimed that the allegations raised against him and the other
named public officials in all nine issues published between September 24, 1927,
and November 19, 1927, as well as the paper's overall anti-Semitic tone,
constituted a violation of this law. On November 22, 1927, Judge Matthias
Baldwin of the Hennepin County District Court issued a temporary injunction that
barred the defendants from editing, publishing, or circulating The Saturday Press
or any other publication containing similar material. This injunction was granted
without notice to either defendant on an ex parte hearing between Olson and the
judge, and was to extend until the hearing on the judge's order for the defendants
to show cause as to why they should not be permanently enjoined from publishing
their paper. The hearing was held December 9, and future Minneapolis mayor,
Thomas Latimer, argued that the defendants' activities were protected by the U.S.
and Minnesota constitutions and demurred to the complaint.
Judge Baldwin denied the demurrer and was affirmed by the Minnesota Supreme
Court on appeal.
First Minnesota Supreme Court decision: The State Supreme Court wrote that
a scandalous publication "annoys, injures and endangers the comfort and repose
of a considerable number of persons," and so constituted a nuisance just as
surely as "places where intoxicating liquor is illegally sold," "houses of
prostitution," "dogs," "malicious fences" "itinerant carnivals," "lotteries," and
"noxious weeds." The court considered that a newspaper may also endanger
safety, because "scandalous material" tended to disturb the peace and provoke
assaults. The court cited previous Minnesota decisions that upheld the right of the
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

state to enjoin the publication of "details of execution of criminals" and the


teaching of "things injurious to society." Restricting the publication of a newspaper
based on its harmful content accordingly fell within the legitimate power of "the
people speaking through their representatives" to preserve "public morals" and
the "public welfare." The court stated that it had to give heavy deference to such
decisions, because "[i]t is the prerogative of the legislature to determine not only
what the public interests require but also the measures necessary to protect such
interests."
Regarding Near and Guilford's defense of freedom of the press under article 1,
section 3 of the Minnesota Constitution, the State Supreme Court did not believe
that the right was intended to protect the publishing of "scandalous material", but
that it only provided "a shield for the honest, careful and conscientious press," not
the "defamer and the scandalmonger." Instead, "[h]e who uses the press is
responsible for its abuse." The court also ruled that the state constitution's due
process clause did not extend any additional protection.
The trial court's decision after remand: The case then returned to the
Hennepin County District Court, and Near and Guilford renewed their objection to
the constitutionality of the Public Nuisance Law. Judge Baldwin again overruled
their objection. Only the verified complaint that Olson had filed and the newspaper
issues themselves were entered as evidence, and the defendants did not try to
argue that the Saturday Press did not fit the definition under the statute, or that
their published stories were in fact true. Baldwin ruled that the newspapers
contained nothing but scandalous and defamatory material, and permanently
enjoined the defendants "from producing, editing, publishing, circulating, having in
their possession, selling or giving away any publication whatsoever which is a
malicious, scandalous or defamatory newspaper, as defined by law," and also
"from further conducting said nuisance under the name and title of said 'The
Saturday Press or any other name or title."
Second Minnesota Supreme Court decision: On appeal once again, the
Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that its first decision left little question as to the
constitutionality of the statute, both under the defendants' state constitutional
challenge and a new argument based on due process under the 14th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution. The defendants also argued that the trial court's
injunction went too far because it effectively prevented them from operating any
newspaper, but their appeal did not request a modification of the order. The court
in any case disagreed with their interpretation of the order's scope, stating that it
did allow them to publish a newspaper, so long as it was operated "in harmony
with the public welfare."
Only Near appealed from this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed
the decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court and ruled that the Public Nuisance
Law of 1925 was unconstitutional.
Issue: Does the Minnesota "gag law" violate the free press provision of the First
Amendment?
9

Held: The Supreme Court held that the statute authorizing the injunction was
unconstitutional as applied. History had shown that the protection against
previous restraints was at the heart of the First Amendment. The Court held that
the statutory scheme constituted a prior restraint and hence was invalid under the
First Amendment. Thus the Court established as a constitutional principle the
doctrine that, with some narrow exceptions, the government could not censor or
otherwise prohibit a publication in advance, even though the communication might
be punishable after publication in a criminal or other proceeding.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that, except in rare cases, censorship is
unconstitutional. The court held:
"For these reasons we hold the statute, so far as it authorized the
proceedings in this action under clause (b) [723] of section one, to be an
infringement of the liberty of the press guaranteed by the Fourteenth
Amendment. We should add that this decision rests upon the operation
and effect of the statute, without regard to the question of the truth of the
charges contained in the particular periodical. The fact that the public
officers named in this case, and those associated with the charges of
official dereliction, may be deemed to be impeccable cannot affect the
conclusion that the statute imposes an unconstitutional restraint upon
publication."
Note that the paragraph above cites the Fourteenth Amendment and not the First
Amendment. This is because the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the First
and makes it applicable to the States. As literally written, the First Amendment
applies to Congress and the federal government, not the states.
This case strengthened the notion that a prior restraint of the press violates the
First Amendment. However, it left a loophole which would be used later for other
prior restraint cases, citing certain circumstances in which prior restraint could
potentially be used:
"The objection has also been made that the principle as to immunity from
previous restraint is stated too broadly, if every such restraint is deemed
to be prohibited. That is undoubtedly true; the protection even as to
previous restraint is not absolutely unlimited. But the limitation has been
recognized only in exceptional cases. 'When a nation is at war many
things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its
effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and
that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.'
(Schenck v. United States). No one would question but that a
government might prevent actual obstruction to its recruiting service or
the publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and
location of troops. On similar grounds, the primary requirements of
decency may be enforced against obscene publications. The security of
the community life may be protected against incitements to acts of
violence and the overthrow by force of orderly government."

Hughes (Ct): "...the fact that liberty of press may be abused does not make any
less necessary the immunity of the press from prior restraint...a more serious evil
would result if officials could determine which stories can be published..."
13. TIMES FILM CORP. V. CHICAGO, 365 US 43 (1961)
FACTS: Petitioner Times Film Corporation owned the exclusive right to exhibit the
film Don Juan in Chicago. A Chicago city ordinance required that anybody who
wished to publicly exhibit a film within city limits submit the film to the office of the
commissioner of police and pay a license fee. The office of the commissioner of
police was allowed to refuse to issue a permit to show the film if it determined that
the film did not meet certain standards. A denial of a permit to show a film could
be appealed to the mayor and the mayor's decision would then be final.
Petitioner paid the license fee, but refused to submit the film Don Juan to the
office of the commissioner of police for examination. After Petitioner was refused a
permit to show the film, the corporation brought suit in federal court seeking to
prevent the city from interfering with the exhibition of the film. Petitioner argued
that the provision of the ordinance requiring submission of the film constitutes a
violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
The court dismissed Times Film Corporation's suit on the grounds that it did not
have jurisdiction over the matter. Petitioner appealed that ruling to the Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit which also denied that the corporation had
jurisdiction. Subsequently, Petitioner sought review in the United States Supreme
Court and the high court granted certiorari.
ISSUE: Did a Chicago city ordinance that required submission of motion pictures
to city officials for approval prior to their public exhibition, and forbid their
exhibition unless they met certain standards, violate the First Amendment?
HELD: "[T]here is not a word in the record as to the nature and content of 'Don
Juan.' We are left entirely in the dark in this regard, as were the city officials and
the other reviewing courts. Petitioner claims that the nature of the film is
irrelevant, and that even if this film contains the basest type of pornography, or
incitement to riot, or forceful overthrow of orderly government, it may nonetheless
be shown without prior submission for examination. The challenge here is to the
censor's basic authority; it does not go to any statutory standards employed by
the censor or procedural requirements as to the submission of the film.
In this perspective we consider the prior decisions of this Court touching on the
problem. Beginning over a third of a century ago in Gitlow v. New York, they have
consistently reserved for future decision possible situations in which the claimed
First Amendment privilege might have to give way to the necessities of the public
welfare. It has never been held that liberty of speech is absolute. Nor has it
been suggested that all previous restraints on speech are invalid...
Chicago emphasizes here its duty to protect its people against the dangers of
obscenity in the public exhibition of motion pictures. To this argument petitioner's

MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

10

only answer is that regardless of the capacity for, or extent of, such an evil,
previous restraint cannot be justified. With this we cannot agree. It is not for this
Court to limit the State in its selection of the remedy it deems most effective to
cope with such a problem, absent, of course, a showing of unreasonable
strictures on individual liberty resulting from its application in particular
circumstances. We, of course, are not holding that city officials may be granted
the power to prevent the showing of any motion picture they deem unworthy of a
license.
As to what may be decided when a concrete case involving a specific standard
provided by this ordinance is presented, we intimate no opinion. The petitioner
has not challenged all - or for that matter any - of the ordinance's standards.
Naturally we could not say that every one of the standards, including those which
Illinois' highest court has found sufficient, is so vague on its face that the entire
ordinance is void. At this time we say no more than this - that we are dealing only
with motion pictures and, even as to them, only in the context of the broadside
attack presented on this record." The judgment is affirmed.
14. FREEDMAN V. MARYLAND, 380 U.S. 51 (1965)
Facts: Maryland required that all films be submitted to a board of censors before
being exhibited. The board could disapprove films that were obscene, debased or
corrupted morals, or tended to incite crime. There was no time limit on the
decision-making process. Ronald Freedman challenged the law as
unconstitutional due to the procedures to obtain approval. He did not suggest that
prior approval itself was unconstitutional.
Issue: Did the the Maryland law violate the freedom of expression protected by
the First Amendment?
Held: The Court found the Maryland law to be invalid. The Court decision
reflected a concern that the statute provides the danger of "unduly suppressing
protected expression." The board was allowed overly broad licensing discretion
with a lack of statutory provisions for judicial participation in the the procedure to
prohibit a film. The Court established three guidelines as adequate safeguards to
protect against the "undue inhibition of protected expression." These guidelines
are to: (1) place the burden of proving the film is unprotected expression on the
censors, (2) require judicial determination to impose a valid determination, and (3)
require prompt determination "within a specified time period."
15. SWS V. COMELEC, G.R. NO. 147571 [5 MAY 2001]
Facts: Petitioner SWS and KPC states that it wishes to conduct an election
survey throughout the period of the elections and release to the media the results
of such survey as well as publish them directly. Petitioners argue that the
restriction on the publication of election survey results constitutes a prior restraint
on the exercise of freedom of speech without any clear and present danger to
justify such restraint.
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

Issue: Are the Comelec Resolutions prohibiting the holding of pre-polls and exit
polls and the dissemination of their results through mass media, valid and
constitutional?
Held: No. The Court held that Section (5)4 is invalid because (1) it imposes a
prior restraint on the freedom of expression, (2) it is a direct and total suppression
of a category of expression even though such suppression is only for a limited
period, and (3) the governmental interest sought to be promoted can be achieved
by means other than suppression of freedom of expression.
It has been held that "[mere] legislative preferences or beliefs respecting matters
of public convenience may well support regulation directed at other personal
activities, but be insufficient to justify such as diminishes the exercise of rights so
vital to the maintenance of democratic institutions.
16. CHAVEZ V. GONZALES, G.R. NO. 168338 [15 FEBRUARY 2008]
Facts: The case originates from events that occurred a year after the 2004
national and local elections. On June 5, 2005, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye told
reporters that the opposition was planning to release an audiotape of a mobile
phone conversation allegedly between the President of the Philippines, Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo, and a high-ranking official of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) which was audiotaped allegedly through wire-tapping. On June 8,
2005, respondent Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Raul Gonzales warned
reporters that those who had copies of the compact disc (CD) and those
broadcasting or publishing its contents could be held liable under the AntiWiretapping Act.. In another press briefing, Secretary Gonzales ordered the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to go after media organizations "found to
have caused the spread, the playing and the printing of the contents of a tape" of
an alleged wiretapped conversation involving the President about fixing votes in
the 2004 national elections.
Issue: Is the warning to media in not airing the hello Garci tapes a case of prior
restraint?
Held: Yes. The Court holds that it is not decisive that the press statements made
by respondents were not reduced in or followed up with formal orders or circulars.
It is sufficient that the press statements were made by respondents while in the
exercise of their official functions. Any act done, such as a speech uttered, for and
on behalf of the government in an official capacity is covered by the rule on prior
restraint. The concept of an "act" does not limit itself to acts already converted to
a formal order or official circular. Otherwise, the non formalization of an act into an
official order or circular will result in the easy circumvention of the prohibition on
prior restraint. The press statements at bar are acts that should be struck down as
they constitute impermissible forms of prior restraints on the right to free speech
and press.
17. NEWSOUNDS BROADCASTING NETWORK, INC. V. DY, G.R. NOS.
170270 & 179411 [2 APRIL 2009]
11

Facts: Bombo Radyo Philippines, owned and incorporated by petitioners


Newsounds Broadcasting Network, operates several radio stations across the
Philippines, in particular, one in Cauayan City, Isabella. For a period of five years,
from 1996 to 2001, they have been constructing a building located in an area
which is classified as a Commercial area. The building constructed is a radio
station housing DNZC and Star FM and subsequently acquired the necessary
documents that would allow them to operate.
However in 2002, an issue was raised by the City Assessors Office (CAO) in
Cauayan City, stating that the operators have failed to submit either an approved
land conversion papers from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) or an
approved resolution for the Sangguniang Bayan/Lungsod re-classifying the
property from agricultural to commercial. Petitioner managed to get the pertinent
land titles, but was still denied by the CAO. This would go on for a period of three
years, until 2004, when the petitioners deadline to submit the proper papers was
nearing. Petioners filed for an extension, but the plea lapsed on 15 February
2004. On the 17th, respondents closed the radio station. Petitoners filed a petition
with COMELEC seeking enforcement of the Omnibus Election Code, which
prohibited the closure of radio stations during the pendency of the election period.
COMELEC issued an order directing respondents to maintain the status quo.
Petitioners insist that the since the permits were not acquired before the 17th,
petitioners could not operate. COMELEC still enjoined respondents to allow
petitioners to run the stations until 9 June 2004. The stations would now close on
the 10 June 2004.
Petitoners then filed a petitioner for mandamus, along with an application for the
issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injuction.
However the Lower Courts, RTC and the Court of Appeals, upheld the closing of
the radio stations. The petition then reached the Supreme Court.

The Court is of the position that the actions of the respondents warrant
heightened or strict scrutiny from the Court, the test which we have deemed
appropriate in assessing content-based restrictions on free speech, as well as for
laws dealing with freedom of the mind or restricting the political process, of laws
dealing with the regulation of speech, gender, or race as well as other
fundamental rights as expansion from its earlier applications to equal protection.
The immediate implication of the application of the strict scrutiny test is that the
burden falls upon respondents as agents of government to prove that their actions
do not infringe upon petitioners constitutional rights. As content regulation cannot
be done in the absence of any compelling reason, the burden lies with the
government to establish such compelling reason to infringe the right to free
expression.
18. SORIANO V. LAGUARDIA, G.R. NO. 164785 [29 APRIL 2009] AND G.R.
NO. 164785 [15 MARCH 2010]
Facts: Ang Dating Daan host Eliseo S. Soriano uttered the following statements in
his TV program against Michael Sandoval (Iglesia ni Cristos minister and regular
host of the TV program Ang Tamang Daan):
Lehitimong anak ng demonyo[!] Sinungaling [!] Gago ka talaga[,] Michael[!]
[M]asahol ka pa sa putang babae[,] o di ba[?] []Yung putang babae[,] ang
gumagana lang doon[,] []yung ibaba, dito kay Michael[,] ang gumagana ang itaas,
o di ba? O, masahol pa sa putang babae []yan. Sobra ang kasinungalingan ng
mga demonyong ito.
As a result, The MTRCB initially slapped Sorianos Ang Dating Daan with a 20day preventive suspension after a preliminary conference. Later, in a decision, the
court found him liable for his utterances, and was imposed a three-month
suspension from his TV program Ang Dating Daan. Soriano challenged the order
of the MTRCB.

Held: Court reverses the opinion of the Lower Courts and affirms the constitution.
Jurisprudence distinguishes between a content-neutral regulation, i.e., merely
concerned with the incidents of the speech, or one that merely controls the time,
place or manner, and under well defined standards; and a content-based restraint
or censorship, i.e., the restriction is based on the subject matter of the utterance
or speech. Content-based laws are generally treated as more suspect than
content-neutral laws because of judicial concern with discrimination in the
regulation of expression. Content-neutral regulations of speech or of conduct that
may amount to speech, are subject to lesser but still heightened scrutiny.
Ostensibly, the act of an Local Government Unit (LGU) requiring a business of
proof that the property from which it operates has been zoned for commercial use
can be argued, when applied to a radio station, as content-neutral since such a
regulation would presumably apply to any other radio station or business
enterprise within the LGU. However, the circumstances of this case dictate that
we view the action of the respondents as a content-based restraint.

MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

Held: The SC ruled that Sorianos statement can be treated as obscene, at least
with respect to the average child, and thus his utterances cannot be considered
as protected speech. Citing decisions from the US Supreme Court, the High Court
said that the analysis should be context based and found the utterances to be
obscene after considering the use of television broadcasting as a medium, the
time of the show, and the G rating of the show, which are all factors that made
the utterances susceptible to children viewers. The Court emphasized on how the
uttered words could be easily understood by a child literally rather than in the
context that they were used.
The SC also said that the suspension is not a prior restraint, but rather a form of
permissible administrative sanction or subsequent punishment. In affirming the
power of the MTRCB to issue an order of suspension, the majority said that it is a
sanction that the MTRCB may validly impose under its charter without running
afoul of the free speech clause. visit fellester.blogspot.com The Court said that
the suspension is not a prior restraint on the right of petitioner to continue with
the broadcast of Ang Dating Daan as a permit was already issued to him by
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MTRCB, rather, it was a sanction for the indecent contents of his utterances in a
G rated TV program. (Soriano v. Laguardia; GR No. 165636, April 29, 2009)
Dissenting Opinion: Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in a separate dissenting
opinion, said that a single government action could be both a penalty and a prior
restraint. The Chief Magistrate pointed out that the three month suspension takes
such form because it also acts as a restraint to petitioners future speech and thus
deserves a higher scrutiny than the context based approach that the majority
applied. In voting to grant Sorianos petition, the Chief Justice said that in the
absence of proof and reason, he [Soriano] should not be penalized with a threemonth suspension that works as a prior restraint on his speech.
19. PEOPLE V. PEREZ, 45 PHIL. 599 (1923)
Facts: Isaac Perez, municipal secretary of Pilar Sorsogon happened to meet with
a citizen, Fortunato Lodovice, in the morning of 1 April 1922. They discussed the
administration of Governor-General Wood, which resulted in Perez shouting a
number of times: "The Filipinos, like myself, must use bolos for cutting off Wood's
head for having recommended a bad thing for the Filipinos, for he has killed our
independence." He was then charged in the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon
witha a violation of Article 256 of the Penal Code, regarding contempt of ministers
of the Crown and other persons of authority thereof. Witnesses for the
prosecution and defense affirm the facts of the case, but differ in certain facts.
While the prosecution reaffirms the facts stated, the defense holds that the person
Perez conversed with was one Severo Madrid, who maintained that the fault lies
with the Nacionalista Party while Perez states that it is with the Governor-General.
Issue: What crime did the accused exactly commit?
Held: It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused used
language set out by the facts. The question to be answered now is the
determination of the crime the accused should be convicted of. The court is
convinced that the law infringed is not Article 256 of the Penal Code, but a portion
of the Treason and Sedition law. The court holds the opinion that the language of
the accused did not insult/defame/abuse a person in authority as they did not
raise a disturbance within the community. Criticism of the government, of
whatever branch, is permitted so long as the intent and effect is not seditious in
nature. When intent and effect is to entice sedition, the constitutional freedoms
guaranteeing freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly
and petition, must yield to the punitive measures designed to maintain the
prestige of the constituted authority.
Perez maligned the Governor-General of the Philippines who is effectively the
Chief Executive of the nation. The language used passed the furthest bounds of
free speech and common decency. The Court is also of the opinion that the
language used had a seditious bent, which would produce disaffection among the
people. It is held that a seditious attack on the Chief Executive is an attack on the
rights of the Filipino people and on American sovereignty.
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

Bottomline: In the words of the law, Perez has uttered seditious words. He has
made a statement and done an act which tended to instigate others to cabal or
meet together for unlawful purposes. He has made a statement and done an act
which suggested and incited rebellious conspiracies.
20. GONZALES V. COMELEC, 27 SCRA 835 (1969)
Facts: RA 4880 which took effect on June 17, 1967, prohibiting the too early
nomination of candidates and limiting the period of election campaign or partisan
political activity was challenged on constitutional grounds. More precisely, the
basic liberties of free speech and free press, freedom of assembly and freedom of
association are invoked to nullify the act. Petitioner Cabigao was, at the time of
the filing the petition, an incumbent councilor in the 4th District of Manila and the
Nacionalista Party official candidate for Vice-Mayor of Manila to which he was
subsequently elected on November 11, 1967; petitioner Gonzales, on the other
hand, is a private individual, a registered voter in the City of Manila and a political
leader of his co-petitioner. There was the further allegation that the nomination of
a candidate and the fixing of period of election campaign are matters of political
expediency and convenience which only political parties can regulate or curtail by
and among themselves through self-restraint or mutual understanding or
agreement and that the regulation and limitation of these political matters invoking
the police power, in the absence of clear and present danger to the state, would
render the constitutional rights of petitioners meaningless and without effect.
Senator Lorenzo M. Taada was asked to appear as amicus curiae, and
elucidated that Act No. 4880 could indeed be looked upon as a limitation on the
preferred rights of speech and press, of assembly and of association. He did
justify its enactment however under the clear and present danger doctrine, there
being the substantive evil of elections, whether for national or local officials, being
debased and degraded by unrestricted campaigning, excess of partisanship and
undue concentration in politics with the loss not only of efficiency in government
but of lives as well. The Philippine Bar Association, the Civil Liberties Union, the
U.P. Law Center and the U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle were requested to give their
opinions. Respondents contend that the act was based on the police power of the
state.
Issue: Whether or Not RA 4880 unconstitutional.
Held: Yes. As held in Cabansag v. Fernandez there are two tests that may supply
an acceptable criterion for permissible restriction on freedom of speech. These
are the clear and present danger rule and the 'dangerous tendency' rule. The
first, means that the evil consequence of the comment or utterance must be
extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high before the
utterance can be punished. The danger to be guarded against is the 'substantive
evil' sought to be prevented. It has the advantage of establishing according to the
above decision a definite rule in constitutional law. It provides the criterion as to
what words may be publicly established. The "dangerous tendency rule" is such
that If the words uttered create a dangerous tendency which the state has a right
to prevent, then such words are punishable. It is not necessary that some definite
or immediate acts of force, violence, or unlawfulness be advocated. It is sufficient
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that such acts be advocated in general terms. Nor is it necessary that the
language used be reasonably calculated to incite persons to acts of force,
violence, or unlawfulness. It is sufficient if the natural tendency and probable
effect of the utterance be to bring about the substantive evil which the legislative
body seeks to prevent.

[Defendant was] 'convicted and sentenced to imprisonment' by the trial court. The
Court of Appeals held that the Manifesto 'advocated the overthrow of [the]
government by violence, or by unlawful means... and both the Appellate Division
and the Court of Appeals held the statute constitutional."
On certiorari the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment.

The challenged statute could have been more narrowly drawn and the practices
prohibited more precisely delineated to satisfy the constitutional requirements as
to a valid limitation under the clear and present danger doctrine. As the author
Taada clearly explained, such provisions were deemed by the legislative body to
be part and parcel of the necessary and appropriate response not merely to a
clear and present danger but to the actual existence of a grave and substantive
evil of excessive partisanship, dishonesty and corruption as well as violence that
of late has invariably marred election campaigns and partisan political activities in
this country.
The very idea of a government, republican in form, implies a right on the part of its
citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs and to
petition for redress of grievances. As in the case of freedom of expression, this
right is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing of a clear and
present danger of a substantive evil that Congress has a right to prevent.
The prohibition of any speeches, announcements or commentaries, or the holding
of interviews for or against the election of any party or candidate for public office
and the prohibition of the publication or distribution of campaign literature or
materials, against the solicitation of votes whether directly or indirectly, or the
undertaking of any campaign literature or propaganda for or against any
candidate or party is repugnant to a constitutional command.
21. GITLOW V. PEOPLE OF NEW YORK, 268 US 652 (1924)
FACTS: "The defendant is a member of the Left Wing Section of the Socialist
Party...[which] was organized nationally at a conference in New York City in June ,
1919...The conference elected a National Council, of which the defendant was
member, and left to it the adoption of a 'Manifesto.' This was published in The
Revolutionary Age, the official organ of the Left Wing... Sixteen thousand copies
were printed... and paid for by the defendant, as business manager of the paper...
[D]efendant signed a card subscribing to the Manifesto and Program of the Left
Wing... and went to different parts of the State to speak to branches of the
Socialist Party about the principles of the Left Wing and advocated their adoption.
[The Manifesto] advocated, in plain and unequivocal language, the necessity of
accomplishing the 'Communist Revolution' by a militant and 'revolutionary
Socialism,' based on 'the class struggle' and mobilizing the 'power of the
proletariat in action,' through mass industrial revolts developing into mass political
strikes and 'revolutionary mass action,' for the purpose of conquering and
destroying the parliamentary state and establishing in its place, through a
'revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat,' the system of Communist Socialism.
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

ISSUE: Does a statute, which regulates speech by prohibiting advocacy of


criminal anarchy, deprive the defendant of his liberty of expression in violation of
the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
HELD: "The statute does not penalize the utterance or publication of abstract
'doctrine' or academic discussion having no quality of incitement to any concrete
action... What it prohibits is language advocating, advising or teaching the
overthrow of organized government by unlawful means. [The Manifesto]
advocates and urges in fervent language mass action which shall progressively
foment industrial disturbances and through political mass strikes and revolutionary
mass action overthrow and destroy organized parliamentary government.
For present purposes we may and do assume that freedom of speech and of the
press - which are protected by the First Amendment from abridgment by
Congress - are among the fundamental personal rights and 'liberties' protected by
the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the
States... It is a fundamental principle, long established, that the freedom of
speech and of the press which is secured by the Constitution, does not confer an
absolute right to speak or publish, without responsibility...
[The State's] police 'statutes may only be declared unconstitutional where they are
arbitrary or unreasonable attempts to exercise authority vested in the State in the
public interest...' [U]tterances inciting to the overthrow of organized government
by unlawful means, present a sufficient danger of substantive evil to bring their
punishment within the range of legislative discretion, is clear. Such utterances, by
their very nature, involve danger to the public peace and to the security of the
State.
[Finding] that the statute is not in itself unconstitutional, and that it has not been
applied in the present case in derogation of any constitutional right," the Supreme
Court affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment."
22. DENNIS V. UNITED STATES, 341 US 494 (1950)
Facts: In 1948, the leaders of the Communist Part of America were arrested and
charged with violating provisions of the Smith Act. The Act made it unlawful to
knowingly conspire to teach and advocate the overthrow or destruction of the
United States government. Party leaders were found guilty and lower courts
upheld the conviction.
Issue: Did the Smith Act's restrictions on speech violate the First Amendment?
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Held: In a 6-to-2 decision, the Court upheld the convictions of the Communist
Party leaders and found that the Smith Act did not "inherently" violate the First
Amendment. In the plurality opinion, the Court held that there was a distinction
between the mere teaching of communist philosophies and active advocacy of
those ideas. Such advocacy created a "clear and present danger" that threatened
the government. Given the gravity of the consequences of an attempted putsch,
the Court held that success or probability of success was not necessary to justify
restrictions on the freedom of speech.
Notes: The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such
circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger
that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to
prevent.
Upholding the convictions, the court of appeals applied a "sliding scale" rule for
the clear and present danger test, saying it "must ask whether the gravity of the
'evil,' discounted by its improbability, justifies such invasion of free speech as is
necessary to avoid the danger."
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case from the standpoint of
whether the Smith Act "inherently or as construed and applied in the instant case
violates the First Amendment and other provisions of the Bill of Rights."
Without Justice Tom C. Clark participating, the eight other justices showed wide
disagreement over how to measure the Smith Act's restraints on the freedom of
speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment. Chief Justice Fred
M. Vinson, with Justices Harold H. Burton, Sherman Minton, and Stanley F. Reed,
found that: Congress did not intend to eradicate the free discussion of political
theories, to destroy the traditional rights of Americans to discuss and evaluate
ideas without fear of governmental sanction [but] the formation of such a highly
organized conspiracy, with rigidly disciplined members subject to call when the
leaders felt that the time had come for action, coupled with the inflammable nature
of world conditions, convince us that their convictions were justified. It is the
existence of the conspiracy which creates the danger. If the ingredients of the
reaction are present, we cannot bind the Government to wait until the catalyst is
added.
Petitioners intended to overthrow the Government of the United States as
speedily as the circumstances would permit. Their conspiracy created a "clear
and present danger." They were properly and constitutionally convicted for
violation of the Smith Act.
It is a sobering fact that in sustaining the convictions before us we can hardly
escape restriction on the interchange of ideas.
Congress, not the Supreme Court, he wrote, was responsible for reconciling such
a conflict of values. The Court's job was to require substantial proof before
conviction and to ensure fair procedures in enforcement of the law. "Beyond these
MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

powers," he wrote, "we must not go; we must scrupulously observe the narrow
limits of judicial authority."
While also concurring, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote: The authors of the clear
and present danger test never applied it to a case like this, nor would I. As
proposed here, it means that the Communist plotting is protected during its period
of incubation; its preliminary stages of organization and preparation are immune
from the law; the Government can move only after imminent action is manifest,
when it would, of course, be too late.
Concluded Jackson: "There is no constitutional right to gang up on the
Government."
Justices William 0. Douglas and Hugo L. Black wrote dissenting opinions. Said
Black: The indictment is that they conspired to use speech or newspapers to
teach and advocate the forcible overthrow of the Government. No matter how it is
worded, this is a virulent form of prior censorship of speech and press, which I
believe the First Amendment forbids.
Douglas wrote: We deal here with speech alone, not with speech plus acts of
sabotage or unlawful conduct. Not a single seditious act is charged.
Free speechthe glory of our system of governmentshould not be sacrificed on
anything less than plain and objective proof of danger that the evil advocated is
imminent. On the record no one can say that petitioners and their converts are in
such a strategic position as to have even the slightest chance of achieving their
aims.
The majority opinion concluded that the Smith Act "does not violate the First
Amendment or other provisions of the Bill of Rights." As a result, not only did
Dennis and his fellow appellants serve time in prison, but 121 second-rank U.S.
Communist Party officials were prosecuted for conspiracy under the Smith Act.
Other individual party members also were prosecuted. In every case tried
between 1951 and 1956, convictions were obtained. All were affirmed by courts of
appeal. All were denied review by the Supreme Court.
23. NEW YORK TIMES CO. V. SULLIVAN, 376 US 254 (1964)
Synopsis of Rule of Law: The constitutional guarantees require a federal rule
that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood
relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with
actual malice that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard
of whether it was false or not.
Facts: The Plaintiff was one of three Commissioners of Montgomery, Alabama,
who claimed that he was defamed in a full-page ad taken out in the New York
Times. The advertisement was entitled, Heed Their Rising Voices and it charged
in part that an unprecedented wave of terror had been directed against those who
participated in the civil rights movement in the South. Some of the particulars of
the advertisement were false. Although the advertisement did not mention the
Plaintiff by name, he claimed that it referred to him indirectly because he had
15

oversight responsibility of the police. The Defendant claimed that it authorized


publication of the advertisement because it did not have any reason to believe
that its contents were false. There was no independent effort to check its
accuracy. The Plaintiff demanded that the Defendant retract the advertisement.
The Defendant was puzzled as to why the Plaintiff thought the advertisement
reflected adversely on him. The jury found the ad libe lous per se and actionable
without proof of malice. The jury awarded the Plaintiff $500,000 in damages. The
Alabama
Supreme
Court
affirmed.
The
Defendant
appealed.

Issue: Is the Defendant liable for defamation for printing an advertisement, which
criticized a public officials official conduct?
Held: No. Reversed and remanded.

Safeguards for freedom of speech and of the press are required by the First
and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution (Constitution)
in a libel action brought by a public official against critics of his official
conduct.

Under Alabama law, a publication is libelous per se if the words tend to injure
a person in his reputation or to bring him into public contempt. The jury must
find that the words were published of and concerning the plaintiff. Once libel
per se has been established, the defendant has no defense as to stated facts
unless he can persuade the jury that they were true in all their particulars.

Erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate and it must be protected if


the freedoms of expression are to have the breathing space that the need to
survive.

The constitutional guarantees require a federal rule that prohibits a public


official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his

MEDIA LAW DIGEST NO. 1

official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with actual
malice that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of
whether it was false or not.
The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) holds that the
Constitution delimits a States power to award damages for libel in actions
brought by public officials against critics of their official conduct. In this case,
the rule requiring proof of actual malice is applicable.
The Defendants failure to retract the advertisement upon the Plaintiffs
demand is not adequate evidence of malice for constitutional purposes.
Likewise, it is not adequate evidence of malice that the Defendant failed to
check the advertisements accuracy against the news stories in the
Defendants own files. Also, the evidence was constitutionally defective in
another respect: it was incapable of supporting the jurys finding that the
allegedly libelous statements were made of and concerning the Plaintiff.
Concurrence Justice Hugo Black (J. Black) argued that the First and
Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution do not merely delimit a States
power to award damages, but completely prohibit a State from exercising
such a power. The Defendant had an absolute, unconditional right to publish
criticisms of the Montgomery agencies and officials.
Discussion In order for a public official to recover in a defamation action
involving his official conduct, malice must be proved. Without the showing of
malice, the Supreme Court felt that a defamation action in this case would
severely cripple the safeguards of freedom speech and expression that are
guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution and applicable to the
States via the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

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