President Donald Trump fantasizes from time to time about “opening up” the nation’s libel laws to give himself – and presumably other rich and famous people – a leg up on a “very unfair” press. It’s a far-fetched fantasy.
Here’s a better one: Why not confound people’s expectations, be a champion for real freedom of speech? To do that, however, would mean making college and university officials very uncomfortable.
Trump didn’t defeat Hillary Clinton so he could pursue a quixotic campaign to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan. The half-century-old U.S. Supreme Court case established that public figures must prove a publication acted in reckless disregard of the truth when printing an allegedly defamatory statement. Yet to hear White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus tell it, the administration has spent time and resources pondering the idea.