judges did not force the American government to reveal all, and leave it powerless to punish those who leaked its secrets. Instead they established new rules for the conduct of public debate. They were careful not to allow absolute liberty. Private citizens can sue as easily in America as anywhere else, if writers attack them without good grounds. Poison pens are still punished, and individual reputations are still protected. If, however, a private citizen is engaged in a public debate, it is not enough for him or her to prove that what a writer says is false and defamatory. They must prove that the writer behaved ‘negligently’. The judiciary protects public debates, the Supreme Court said in 1974, because ‘under the First Amendment, there is no such thing as a false idea. However pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges but on the competition of other ideas.’ Finally, the judges showed no regard for the feelings of politicians and other public figures. They must prove that a writer was motivated by ‘actual malice’ before they could succeed in court. The public figure must show that the writer knew that what he or she wrote was a lie, or wrote with a reckless disregard for the truth. Unlike in Britain, the burden of proof was with the accuser, not the accused.