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Supreme Court Ruling Could Stifle Open Debate In Journals

Editors fear that a recent redefinition of `protected speech' could force them to stifle controversy in order to avoid lawsuits The freedom of scientists to candidly criticize their colleagues' theories in professional journals could be sharply curtailed by a Supreme Court ruling on libel handed down this past summer. Journal editors currently defending themselves in court against charges that their publications have been a party to a malicious attack fear that the high court decision could ha

Cathy Sears


Editors fear that a recent redefinition of `protected speech' could force them to stifle controversy in order to avoid lawsuits
The freedom of scientists to candidly criticize their colleagues' theories in professional journals could be sharply curtailed by a Supreme Court ruling on libel handed down this past summer. Journal editors currently defending themselves in court against charges that their publications have been a party to a malicious attack fear that the high court decision could have a damaging effect on their cases.

"People in Eastern Europe can now speak freely, but here, if you have millions, you can muzzle free speech," says Jan Moor-Jankowski, professor of medical research at New York University School of Medicine and cofounder and editor of the Journal of Medical Primatology. "That's the chilling effect of this Supreme Court ruling."

Moor-Jankowski and other editors have long operated under the assumption, based on prior court...

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