National Affairs: Damages Undone

In other major decisions* handed down on the final day of its term, the Supreme Court nailed up fences protecting 1) federal officials, and 2) broadcasting stations from important types of libel suits.

Government officials, said Justice John Marshall Harlan for .the majority in a historic, 5-to-4 decision, "should be free to exercise their duties unembarrassed by the fear of damage suits . . . which might appreciably inhibit the fearless, vigorous and effective administration of policies." So saying, the Court extended to all policymaking federal officials a rule that it had applied to Cabinet officers back in 1896: they have "absolute...

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