Parody Of Public Figures Ruled Constitutional

1988

In Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, the U.S. Supreme Court applies the “actual malice” standard, saying the First Amendment protects the right to parody public figures, even if the parodies are “outrageous” or inflict severe emotional distress. The case arose from a parody of Campari liqueur ads in which celebrities spoke about their “first time” drinking the liqueur. Jerry Falwell – a well-known conservative minister and political commentator – was the subject of such a parody in Hustler, a sexually explicit magazine. The Court rules that public figures may not be awarded damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress without showing that false factual statements were made with “actual malice.”