Goldwater v. Ginzburg

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Goldwater v. Ginzburg was a 1969 United States court ruling on defamation.[1]


Fact Magazine (Fact) was a corporation in New York. The defendant, Ralph Ginzburg, was the editor and publisher of Fact, and Warren Boroson, a co-defendant in this case, was the managing editor of Fact. The plaintiff, Barry Goldwater, was a United States Senator from Arizona and had been a 1964 presidential candidate. The defendants testified that they attended the July 1964 Republican National Convention and were not impressed with Senator Goldwater. Thus, they decided to warn the American people in an issue of their magazine (soon known as the "Goldwater issue"[2] of Fact) immediately after Goldwater's nomination on July 16th.

The issue at hand was the article published by Fact titled "The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater" in the September–October 1964 issue. The magazine polled psychiatrists and asked if Goldwater was psychologically fit to serve as president.[3] Fact used the information given from the polls in the magazine article against Senator Goldwater. Senator Goldwater sued Fact Magazine, Inc., Ginzburg, and Boroson for "false, scandalous and defamatory statements referring to and concerning [the] plaintiff.” [2]

Court rulings[edit]

The court found that the evidence introduced at trial proved the defendants knew they were publishing defamatory statements and “were motivated by actual malice when they published the statements.”[2] The court found the defendants guilty of libel action based on the article Fact published. The plaintiff demanded $1,000,000 in compensatory and punitive damages but Senator Goldwater was awarded $1 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages. The compensatory damages were against all defendants but the punitive damages were split between the defendants. Ginzburg and Boroson were liable for $25,000 of the $75,000 and Fact Magazine, Inc. was liable for $50,000. The United States Court of Appeals affirmed the award and the Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari (review); Justice Black and Justice Douglas joined a dissenting opinion, rather unusual at the time (1970) on orders denying “cert.”[4] Boroson was the only defendant not to file an appeal after receiving the ruling.


Although over 1,800 psychiatrists responded to the polls sent by Ginzburg, the medical director[ambiguous] at the time, Walter Barton, sent a protest warning Ginzburg that "a psychiatrist’s evaluation must take place in the context of a doctor-patient relationship and a “thorough clinical examination"."[5] The American Psychiatric Association then issued the Goldwater rule reaffirming medical privacy and forbidding commenting on a patient that any individual psychiatrist has not personally examined.[1]


  1. ^ a b Richard A. Friedman (May 23, 2011). "How a Telescopic Lens Muddles Psychiatric Insights". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  2. ^ a b c Goldwater v. Ginzburg 414 F.2d 324 (1969)
  3. ^ "LBJ Fit to Serve". Associated Press. May 23, 1968. Retrieved 2011-05-24. Publisher Ralph Ginzburg, defendant in a libel suit for an article on a poll of psychiatrists on Barry Goldwater that he conducted in 1964 says ...
  4. ^ 414 F.2d 324, 337 (2d Cir.1969), cert. denied, 396 US 1049, 90 S.Ct. 701, 24 L.Ed.2d 695.
  5. ^ "Goldwater v. Ginzburg." American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(8), pp. 729–730