This case concerns a full-page ad in the New York Times which said that the arrest of Martin Luther King, Jr. was part of a campaign to destroy his efforts to integrate the public and encourage blacks to vote
L. B. Sullivan, the Montgomery city commissioner, filed a libel action against the newspaper and four black ministers who were listed as endorsers of the ad, claiming that the allegations against the Montgomery police made him unpopular.
The Question: Did Alabama's libel law, by not requiring Sullivan to prove that an advertisement personally harmed him and dismissing the same as untruthful due to errors, deny him of freedom of speech and freedom of press protections?
The New York Times-Petitioner
"You are infringing on my first amendment rights, freedom of speech and freedom of press protection,"
"The New York Times made me unpopular by making allegations against the Montgomery Police Department,"
The Court held that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice. Under this new standard, Sullivan's case collapsed.
It was a unanimous decision for New York Times Company