LSU Manship School to Host Conversation on Speech in Political Campaigns

November 6, 2019

Baton Rouge, LA – The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School for Mass Communication in partnership with the Paul M. Hebert Law Center will host “Libel in Political Campaigns: How Far is Too Far?” which will spotlight what political figures can and cannot legally say during their campaigns. The event is slated for Nov. 13 and is open to the public.

A 1962 televised speech that accused U.S. Senate incumbent Russell Long of having connections to organized crime and corrupt union officials, led to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that changed American libel law forever. The case is explored in the book, “Reckless Disregard: St. Amant v. Thompson and the Transformation of Libel Law” authored by media law professor and 2016 Manship School Ph.D. graduate Eric P. Robinson.

St. Amant v. Thompson serves a landmark case in modern American defamation law because it helped establish the robust protections that American courts provide to comments about public officials, public figures and matters of public interest. Robinson's research and subsequent book sheds new light on the judgment by tracing the legal proceedings and examining the justices' internal deliberations.

The event will include a discussion with Robinson about the case and will also feature a panel of media law experts to discuss the significance of this case and its specific on politics in Louisiana as well as the entire country. Panelists include:

  • Lori Mince, Attorney, Fishman Haygood
  • Lindsay Rabalais, Attorney, Taylor Wellons Politz Duhe
  • Scott Sternberg, Attorney, Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC
  • Dr. Kyu Ho Youm, MSL, Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon

“The St. Amant case was once called ‘the most important of the recent Supreme Court libel decisions,’ but it has not received the attention it warrants,” Robinson says. The event will provide a thorough analysis of the case and its ramifications in Louisiana and nationwide.”

The event is scheduled for Nov. 13 from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the Holliday Forum of the Manship School’s Journalism Building at 144 Field House Drive on the campus of Louisiana State University. Admission is free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP is required. Reserve your seat here by COB Monday, Nov. 11. Parking is available at the Union Square Garage, which can be accessed on East Campus Drive. Visitor parking is available on the second, third and fourth floors of the garage for $1.50 per hour on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is partnership-driven, action-oriented and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School’s national and state leadership in media and politics.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: master of mass communication, Ph.D. in media and public affairs, certificate of strategic communication, and dual MMC/law degree.

Established in 1906, the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center provides a uniquely comprehensive legal education, teaching civil law, common law and public law, enabling its students to successfully practice anywhere in the world. Since its founding, LSU Law has graduated over 10,000 students who have gone on to be successful attorneys, elected officials, business leaders and distinguished members of the judiciary—including five of the seven judges currently on the Louisiana Supreme Court. For more information on LSU Law, visit