Law: Libel Relief

The court strengthens a shield

The press has learned from experience that there are two kinds of expensive libel suits: the ones it loses and the ones it wins. Even meritless complaints can lead to costly court battles, a threat that can inhibit even the wealthiest news organizations. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court gave the news media important relief with a ruling that encourages judges to dismiss unworthy suits before they go to trial.

The court's decision stemmed from a libel suit against the Investigator, a magazine published by muckraking Columnist Jack Anderson. In three articles published in 1981, the Investigator charged that the ultraconservative...

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