February 24, 1988 : Supreme Court defends right to satirize public figures

Introduction

The U.S. Supreme Court votes 8-0 to overturn the $200,000 settlement awarded to the Reverend Jerry Falwell for his emotional distress at being parodied in Hustler, a pornographic magazine.

In 1983, Hustler ran a piece parodying Falwell’s first sexual experience as a drunken, incestuous, childhood encounter with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell, an important religious conservative and founder of the Moral Majority political advocacy group, sued Hustler and its publisher, Larry Flynt, for libel. Falwell won the case, but Flynt appealed, leading to the Supreme Court’s hearing the case because of its constitutional implications. In February 1988, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the lower court’s decision, ruling that, although in poor taste, Hustler‘s parody fell within the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech and the press.

Article Details:

February 24, 1988 : Supreme Court defends right to satirize public figures

  • Author

    History.com Staff

  • Website Name

    History.com

  • Year Published

    2010

  • Title

    February 24, 1988 : Supreme Court defends right to satirize public figures

  • URL

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/supreme-court-defends-right-to-satirize-public-figures

  • Access Date

    November 17, 2017

  • Publisher

    A+E Networks