Law professors and legal commentators seldom spare a kind word for the distinctive “anomalies and absurdities” that constitute defamation law, as these “senseless distinctions and overly technical rules” have left judges and juries “hopelessly and irretrievably confused.” Rooted more than 1,500 years ago in the legal systems of Germanic tribes and derived from centuries of Anglo-American legal tradition, modern American defamation law stubbornly persists in making little sense. These legal peculiarities were presented to the Texas Supreme Court in Dallas Morning News, Inc. v. Tatum, a case involving a heart-wrenching death and a well-intentioned newspaper column. While the state supreme court correctly held that the statement in question did not constitute actionable defamation, its attempt to resolve lingering substantive issues in Texas defamation law unnecessarily contributed to the existing confusion and further demonstrated the intricate and profound problems in defamation law.
Griffin S. Rubin, Note, Liable for Libel?—The Texas Supreme Court’s Opinion on Opinions and Implications, 72 SMU L. Rev. 335 (2019)