This Article seeks to correct the imbalance that occurs when the First Amendment and securities fraud collide. Under current precedent, securities analysts, credit rating agencies, and financial journalists are subject to differing liability standards depending on whether they are sued for defamation or for securities fraud. Under New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, First Amendment protections apply in the defamation context in order to prevent the chilling of valuable speech, yet courts have declined to extend these protections to the securities fraud context. This imbalance threatens to chill valuable speech about public companies. To prevent the dangerous chilling effect of potential securities fraud liability, this Article contends that the Sullivan protections should apply equally in securities fraud cases. Therefore, under this Article's recommendation, a securities fraud claim asserted against a noncommercial speaker for speech concerning a public company cannot prevail absent a showing of actual malice, by clear and convincing evidence, and subject to independent appellate review.
65 Ala. L. Rev. 903 (2014)