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Exhibition Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration

Aggie Kenny. Larry Flynt (Foreground) & Issacman [sic], 1988. Watercolor and graphite on tan paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-50994 © Aggie Kenny
Gift of Tom Girardi

Satire Is Protected Free Speech

Publisher Larry Flynt provoked a lawsuit for damages for satirizing televangelist Jerry Falwell in a fake Campari ad in Hustler magazine. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed in Hustler v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), that a parody, which no reasonable person expected to be true, was protected free speech. The justices also stated that upholding the lower courts' decisions would put all political satire at risk. Alan Isaacman defended Flynt before eight justices, as Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself. Flynt (in wheelchair) is isolated due to an outburst during a previous Supreme Court appearance in another libel case.