The U.S. Supreme Court declined to revisit libel standards Tuesday, leaving the law as it stands after 1964's New York Times v. Sullivan: public figures have to prove intentional lying or reckless disregard for the truth to prevail. The ruling is considered a pillar of First Amendment law, making it possible for media to investigate and criticize the rich and famous without censorship. At immediate stake were the hurt feelings of Don Blankenship, a coal baron and convicted criminal who wanted the government to punish media who called him a felon, when in fact his "extremely unusual" misdemeanor sentence was a single day short of a felony term and was served in a prison where every other prisoner was a felon. [h/t Steve_L]
Even Justice Clarence Thomas, the most noted proponent on the bench for making it easier to sue and silence critics, knew this arsehole wasn't his ride.
"In an appropriate case, however, we should reconsider New York Times and our other decisions displacing state defamation law," Thomas wrote in a brief concurrence to the court's decision not to take up the case. He said that the case, Don Blankenship v. NBC Universal, LLC, was a poor vehicle to reconsider Sullivan.
The most noted proponent off the bench is one Donald Trump, who said he was going to "open up our libel law" when running for president in 2016. He won, and he didn't.