In Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court considered claims brought against Hustler Magazine by high-profile preacher and pundit Jerry Falwell arising out of a parody ad that ran in the magazine. The claims based on the parody ad included defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress; a jury decided in Hustler's favor on the defamation claim, but awarded damages to Falwell on the emotional distress claim. The Supreme Court reversed the jury verdict for Falwell on the emotional distress claim, invoking constitutional standards applied in defamation cases to do so. Rejecting as irrelevant the distinction that emotional distress cases are concerned with an intent to injure feelings rather than reputation, id. at 52-53, the Court held that the First Amendment standards stated in the defamation case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan were equally applicable to Falwell's emotional distress claims as an essential protection for free speech. Id. at 53-56. Because Falwell had failed to prove "a false statement of fact which was made with 'actual malice,'" the Court held that he was not entitled to recover damages for emotional distress. Id. at 56-57.

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