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Does a public official have to prove “actual malice” before he can recover damages in a defamation action against persons criticizing their official conduct because the 1st Amendment of the US protects false statements against public officials.


A State cannot, under the First Amendment (freedom of speech) award damages to a public official for defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves "actual malice" -- that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was true or false.

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