Two disc jockeys at WPYX-FM radio in Albany, New York, have been sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress by Annette Esposito-Hilder, who was identified on the air by the two disc jockeys as the “winner” of the “ugliest bride” contest. The two disc jockeys sponsor an ugliest bride contest based on the wedding pictures in the daily newspaper. Viewers are invited to call in with their guesses as to which bride has been chosen. Generally, the disc jockeys did not reveal last names of the brides. However, in Ms. Esposito-Hilder’s case, they broke with past practice and revealed her name. On appeal of the case from an earlier dismissal, the court held that there was no defamation involved in their statements because they were “pure, subjective opinion.” The court did hold, however, that a suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress could go forward. The court held, “Comedic expression does not receive absolute First Amendment protection.”
Is opinion protected by the First Amendment? Why or why not?
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