Washington Law Review




On two separate occasions, Dr. Linus Pauling sued news services for libel. In one case, involving a magazine which had identified Dr. Pauling as a communist without proof of the accusation, his libel action was dismissed by a New York court. In the second case, an editorial in defendant's newspaper falsely reported that Dr. Pauling had been cited for contempt of Congress. He had failed to comply with a congressional demand for a list of associates who had aided him in circulating a petition against nuclear testing, but was never actually cited for contempt. A federal district court's verdict for defendant was affirmed on the merits by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In both cases, held: If a person engages in public debate on controversial and grave issues or attempts to guide public policy, any criticism of such activity, free from actual malice, is privileged. Pauling v. National Review, Inc., 49 Misc. 2d 975, 269 N.Y.S.2d 11 (Sup. Ct. 1966); Pauling v. Globe-Democrat Publishing Co., 362 F.2d 188 (8th Cir. 1966), petition for cert. filed, 35 U.S.L. Week 3082 (U.S. Sept. 6, 1966) (No. 522).

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