The United States Supreme Court, applying the first amendment to a libel action, has held that a publisher enjoys no constitutional privilege for defamation of a private individual; the states may allow an award of actual damages under any standard that does not impose strict liability, but "actual malice" must be shown for recovery of presumed or punitive damages.
Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323 (1974).
William R. Carroll,
Constitutional Law - First Amendment - Freedom of the Press - Constitutional Privilege for Defamation - Private Individual - Libel - Damages,
Duq. L. Rev.
Available at: https://dsc.duq.edu/dlr/vol14/iss1/13