throbber

`(Slip Opinion)
`
`
`
` OCTOBER TERM, 2013
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`1
`
` NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
`
`
`
` being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
`
`
`
` The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
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` prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
`
` See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`
`
` Syllabus
`
`
`
`AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF COLORADO
` No. 12–315. Argued December 9, 2013—Decided January 27, 2014
`
`Respondent Hoeper was a pilot for petitioner Air Wisconsin Airlines
`
`Corp. When Air Wisconsin stopped flying from Hoeper’s home base
`on aircraft that he was certified to fly, he needed to become certified
`
`on a different type of aircraft to keep his job. After Hoeper failed in
`
`his first three attempts to gain certification, Air Wisconsin agreed to
`give him a fourth and final chance. But he performed poorly during a
`required training session in a simulator. Hoeper responded angrily
`
`to this failure—raising his voice, tossing his headset, using profanity,
`
`and accusing the instructor of “railroading the situation.”
`
`
`
`The instructor called an Air Wisconsin manager, who booked
`Hoeper on a flight from the test location to Hoeper’s home in Denver.
`Several hours later, the manager discussed Hoeper’s behavior with
`
`other airline officials. The officials discussed Hoeper’s outburst, his
`
`impending termination, the history of assaults by disgruntled airline
`
`employees, and the chance that—because Hoeper was a Federal
`Flight Deck Officer (FFDO), permitted “to carry a firearm while en-
`
`gaged in providing air transportation,” 49 U. S. C. §44921(f)(1)—he
`might be armed. At the end of the meeting, an airline executive
`
`made the decision to notify the Transportation Security Administra-
`
`tion (TSA) of the situation. The manager who had received the initial
`
`
`report from Hoeper’s instructor made the call to the TSA. During
`
`that call, according to the jury, he made two statements: first, that
`
`Hoeper “was an FFDO who may be armed” and that the airline was
`
`“concerned about his mental stability and the whereabouts of his
`firearm”; and second, that an “[u]nstable pilot in [the] FFDO program
`was terminated today.” In response, the TSA removed Hoeper from
`his plane, searched him, and questioned him about the location of his
`
`gun. Hoeper eventually boarded a later flight to Denver, and Air
`
`Wisconsin fired him the next day.
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`2
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`
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`AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`
`Hoeper sued for defamation in Colorado state court. Air Wisconsin
`
`moved for summary judgment and later for a directed verdict, relying
`
`on the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which
`
`grants airlines and their employees immunity against civil liability
`for reporting suspicious behavior, 49 U. S. C. §44941(a), except where
`
`such disclosure is “made with actual knowledge that the disclosure
`was false, inaccurate, or misleading” or “made with reckless disre-
`gard as to the truth or falsity of that disclosure,” §44941(b). The trial
`court denied the motions and submitted the ATSA immunity ques-
`
`tion to the jury. The jury found for Hoeper on the defamation claim.
`The State Supreme Court affirmed. It held that the trial court erred
`in submitting the immunity question to the jury but that the error
`was harmless. Laboring under the assumption that even true state-
`
`
`ments do not qualify for ATSA immunity if they are made recklessly,
`the court held that Air Wisconsin was not entitled to immunity be-
`
`cause its statements to the TSA were made with reckless disregard of
`
`their truth or falsity.
`Held:
`
`1. ATSA immunity may not be denied to materially true state-
`
`ments. Pp. 7–11.
`
`
`
`(a) The ATSA immunity exception is patterned after the actual
`malice standard of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254,
`
`which requires material falsity. See, e.g., Masson v. New Yorker
`
`Magazine, Inc., 501 U. S. 496, 517. Because the material falsity re-
`
`quirement was settled when the ATSA was enacted, Congress pre-
`sumably meant to incorporate it into the ATSA’s immunity exception
`
`and did not mean to deny ATSA immunity to true statements made
`recklessly. This presumption is not rebutted by other indicia of stat-
`utory meaning. Section 44941(b)(1) requires falsity, and §44941(b)(2)
`
`simply extends the immunity exception from knowing falsehoods to
`
`reckless ones. Denying immunity for substantially true reports, on
`the theory that the person making the report had not yet gathered
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`
`
`enough information to be certain of its truth, would defeat the pur-
`
`
`pose of ATSA immunity: to ensure that air carriers and their employ-
`
`ees do not hesitate to provide the TSA with needed information.
`
`Pp. 7–10.
`
`
`(b) Hoeper’s arguments that the State Supreme Court’s judgment
`
`should be affirmed notwithstanding its misapprehension of ATSA’s
`
`immunity standard are unpersuasive. Hoeper claims that Air Wis-
`consin did not argue the truth of its statements in asserting immuni-
`
`ty, but Air Wisconsin contended in the state court that ATSA’s im-
`
`munity exception incorporates the New York Times actual malice
`
`
`standard, which requires material falsity. And the State Supreme
`
`Court did not perform the requisite analysis of material falsity in
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`
`
`3
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`
`Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`finding the record sufficient to support the defamation verdict. A
`court’s deferential review of jury findings cannot substitute for its
`own analysis of the record; the jury was instructed only to determine
`
`falsity, not materiality; and applying the material falsity standard to
`
`a defamation claim is quite different from applying it to ATSA im-
`munity. Pp. 10–11.
`
`
`2. Under the correct material falsity analysis, Air Wisconsin is en-
`
`titled to immunity as a matter of law. Pp. 12–18.
`
`
`(a) In the defamation context, a materially false statement is one
`that “ ‘would have a different effect on the mind of the reader [or lis-
`
`tener] from that which the . . . truth would have produced.’ ” Masson,
`
`
`501 U. S., at 517. This standard suffices in the ATSA context as well,
`
`so long as the hypothetical reader or listener is a security officer. For
`
`purposes of ATSA immunity, a falsehood cannot be material absent a
`
`substantial likelihood that a reasonable security officer would consid-
`er it important in determining a response to the supposed threat.
`Pp. 12–13.
`
`
`
`(b) Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Hoeper,
`
`the Court concludes as a matter of law that any falsehoods in Air
`Wisconsin’s statement to the TSA were not material. First, the Court
`
`rejects Hoeper’s argument that Air Wisconsin should have qualified
`its statement that Hoeper “was an FFDO who may be armed” by not-
`ing that it had no reason to think he actually was armed. To the ex-
`
`
`tent that Air Wisconsin’s statement could have been confusing, any
`
`such confusion is immaterial, as a reasonable TSA officer—having
`
`been told that Hoeper was an FFDO who was upset about losing his
`job—would have wanted to investigate whether he was armed. To
`demand more precise wording would vitiate the purpose of ATSA
`
`immunity: to encourage air carriers and their employees, often in
`
`fast-moving situations and with little time to fine-tune their diction,
`
`to provide the TSA immediately with information about potential
`threats. Second, Air Wisconsin’s statement that Hoeper “was termi-
`
`
`nated today” was not materially false. While Hoeper had not actually
`been fired at the time of the statement, everyone involved knew that
`his firing was imminent. No reasonable TSA officer would care
`
`whether an angry, potentially armed airline employee had just been
`fired or merely knew he was about to meet that fate. Finally, alt-
`
`hough the details of Hoeper’s behavior during the simulator session
`may be disputed, it would have been correct even under Hoeper’s ver-
`sion of the facts for Air Wisconsin to report that Hoeper “blew up”
`during the test. From a reasonable security officer’s perspective,
`
`there is no material difference between a statement that Hoeper had
`
`“blown up” in a professional setting and a statement that he was un-
`
`
`stable. Air Wisconsin’s related statement that it was “concerned
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`4
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`
`
`AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`
`Syllabus
`about [Hoeper’s] mental stability” is no more troubling. Many of the
`officials who attended the meeting at airline headquarters might not
`
`have framed their concerns in terms of “mental stability,” but it
`
`
`would be inconsistent with the ATSA’s text and purpose to expose Air
`Wisconsin to liability because the manager who placed the call to the
`TSA could have chosen a slightly better phrase to articulate the air-
`line’s concern. A statement that would otherwise qualify for ATSA
`immunity cannot lose that immunity because of some minor impreci-
`
`
`sion, so long as “the gist” of the statement is accurate, Masson, 501
`U. S., at 517. Pp. 13–18.
`Reversed and remanded.
`SOTOMAYOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
`
`
` C. J., and KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, and ALITO, JJ., joined, and in
`
`
`
`
`
`which SCALIA, THOMAS, and KAGAN, JJ., joined as to Parts I, II, and III–
`
`
`
`
`A. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part,
`
` in which THOMAS and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
`1
`
`
` NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
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`
`
` preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
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` notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash-
`
` ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
`
`
` that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
`
`
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`_________________
`
` No. 12–315
`_________________
`AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORPORATION,
`
`PETITIONER v. WILLIAM L. HOEPER
`
`ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF
`
`
`COLORADO
`
`[January 27, 2014]
`
`
` JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR delivered the opinion of the Court.
`
`In 2001, Congress created the Transportation Security
`
`Administration (TSA) to assess and manage threats against
`
`air travel. Aviation and Transportation Security Act
`
`(ATSA), 49 U. S. C. §44901 et seq. To ensure that the
`
`TSA would be informed of potential threats, Congress gave
`airlines and their employees immunity against civil liabil-
`
`ity for reporting suspicious behavior. §44941(a). But this
`
`immunity does not attach to “any disclosure made with
`
`actual knowledge that the disclosure was false, inaccurate,
`or misleading” or “any disclosure made with reckless
`
`disregard as to the truth or falsity of that disclosure.”
`
`§44941(b).
`
`The question before us is whether ATSA immunity may
`be denied under §44941(b) without a determination that a
`
`disclosure was materially false. We hold that it may not.
`Because the state courts made no such determination, and
`because any falsehood in the disclosure here would not
`have affected a reasonable security officer’s assessment of
`the supposed threat, we reverse the judgment of the Colo-
`rado Supreme Court.
`
`

`

`2
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`
`
`
`
`
` AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`Opinion of the Court
`I
`
`A
`
`William Hoeper joined Air Wisconsin Airlines Corpora-
`
`tion as a pilot in 1998. But by late 2004, Air Wisconsin
`had stopped operating flights from Denver, Hoeper’s home
`base, on any type of aircraft for which he was certified. To
`
`continue flying for Air Wisconsin out of Denver, Hoeper
`needed to gain certification on the British Aerospace 146
`(BAe-146), an aircraft he had not flown.
`Hoeper failed in his first three attempts to pass a profi-
`
`ciency test. After the third failure, as he later acknowl-
`edged at trial, his employment was “at [Air Wisconsin’s]
`
`discretion.” App. 193. But he and Air Wisconsin entered
`into an agreement to afford him “one more opportunity to
`
`
`pass [the] proficiency check.” Id., at 426. The agreement
`
`left little doubt that Hoeper would lose his job if he failed
`again.
`In December 2004, Hoeper flew from Denver to Virginia
`
`
`for simulator training as part of this final test. During the
`
`training, Hoeper failed to cope with a challenging scenario
`created by the instructor, Mark Schuerman, and the simu-
`
`lator showed the engines “flam[ing] out” due to a loss of
`
`fuel. App. 203. As Schuerman began to tell Hoeper that
`he “should know better,” ibid., Hoeper responded angrily.
`He later described what happened:
`“At this point, that’s it. I take my headset off and I
`toss it up on the glare shield. . . . [Schuerman] and I
`
`exchanged words at the same elevated decibel level.
`
`Mine went something like this: This is a bunch of shit.
`
`I’m sorry. You are railroading the situation and it’s
`
`not realistic.” Id., at 203–204.
`
`When Hoeper announced that he wanted to call the legal
`department of the pilots’ union, Schuerman ended the
`session so that Hoeper could do so. Schuerman then re-
`ported Hoeper’s behavior to Patrick Doyle, the Wisconsin-
`
`

`

`3
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`based manager of the BAe-146 fleet. Doyle booked Hoeper
`
`on a United Airlines flight back to Denver.
`
`Several hours after Schuerman’s report, Doyle discussed
`the situation at Air Wisconsin’s headquarters with the
`airline’s Vice President of Operations, Kevin LaWare; its
`Managing Director of Flight Operations, Scott Orozco; and
`its Assistant Chief Pilot, Robert Frisch. LaWare later ex-
`
`plained the accretion of his concerns about what Hoeper
`might do next. He regarded Hoeper’s behavior in the
`simulator as “a fairly significant outburst,” of a sort that
`he “hadn’t seen . . . before.” Id., at 276. And he knew “it
`was a given that . . . Hoeper’s employment was . . . going
`to be terminated” as a result of his failure to complete the
`simulator training. Id., at 278.
`
`Then, LaWare testified, Orozco mentioned that Hoeper
`was a Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO). The FFDO
`program allows the Government to “deputize volunteer
`pilots of air carriers . . . to defend the flight decks of air-
`
`craft . . . against acts of criminal violence or air piracy.”
`§44921(a). FFDOs are permitted “to carry a firearm while
`engaged in providing air transportation.” §44921(f)(1).
`
`
`Hoeper had become an FFDO earlier in 2004 and had been
`
`issued a firearm. He was not allowed to carry the firearm
`during his trip to the training facility, because he was not
`“engaged in providing air transportation,” ibid. But ac-
`cording to one official at the meeting, the Denver airport’s
`
`security procedures made it possible for crew members to
`bypass screening, so that Hoeper could have carried his
`
`gun despite the rule. Indeed, Frisch later testified that he
`was “aware of one” incident in which an Air Wisconsin
`
`pilot had come to training with his FFDO weapon. App.
`292. On the basis of this information, LaWare concluded,
`
`there was “no way . . . to confirm” whether “Hoeper had
`his weapon with him, even though . . . by policy, [he was]
`
`not supposed to have it with him.” Id., at 279.
`
`Finally, LaWare testified, he and the other Air Wiscon-
`
`

`

`4
`
`
`
`
` AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`Opinion of the Court
`sin officials discussed two prior episodes in which disgrun-
`tled airline employees had lashed out violently. Id., at
`280. In one incident, a FedEx flight engineer under inves-
`tigation for misconduct “entered the cockpit” of a FedEx
`
`flight “and began attacking the crew with a hammer”
`before being subdued. United States v. Calloway, 116
`
`F. 3d 1129, 1131 (CA6 1997). In another, a recently fired
`
`ticket agent brought a gun onto a Pacific Southwest Air-
`lines flight and shot his former supervisor and the crew,
`
`leading to a fatal crash. Malnic, Report Confirms That
`Gunman Caused 1987 Crash of PSA Jet, L. A. Times,
`
`
`Jan. 6, 1989, p. 29.
`In light of all this—Hoeper’s anger, his impending ter-
`
`mination, the chance that he might be armed, and the
`history of assaults by disgruntled airline employees—
`LaWare decided that the airline “need[ed] to make a call
`
`to the TSA,” to let the authorities know “the status” of the
`situation. App. 282.
`
`Doyle offered to make the call. According to the jury, he
`
`
`made two statements to the TSA: first, that Hoeper “was
`
`an FFDO who may be armed” and that the airline was
`“concerned about his mental stability and the whereabouts
`
`of his firearm”; and second, that an “[u]nstable pilot in
`
`[the] FFDO program was terminated today.” App. to Pet.
`
`for Cert. 111a. (The latter statement appears in the rec-
`ord as the subject line of an internal TSA e-mail, summa-
`rizing the call from Doyle. App. 414.)
`The TSA responded to the call by ordering that Hoeper’s
`
`plane return to the gate. Officers boarded the plane, re-
`moved Hoeper, searched him, and questioned him about
`
`the location of his gun. When Hoeper stated that the gun
`was at his home in Denver, a Denver-based federal agent
`went there to retrieve it.
`Later that day, Hoeper boarded a return flight to Den-
`
`ver. Air Wisconsin fired him the following day.
`
`
`

`

`
`
`5
`
`
`Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
`B
`
`
`Hoeper sued Air Wisconsin in Colorado state court on
`
`several claims, including defamation.1 Air Wisconsin
`moved for summary judgment on the basis of ATSA im-
`munity,2 but the trial court denied it, ruling that the jury
`
`was entitled to find the facts pertinent to immunity. The
`case went to trial, and the court denied Air Wisconsin’s
`motion for a directed verdict on the same basis. It submit-
`ted the question of ATSA immunity to the jury, with the
`
`instruction—following the language of §44941(b)—that
`immunity would not apply if Hoeper had proved that
`
`Air Wisconsin “made the disclosure [to the TSA] with ac-
`tual knowledge that the disclosure was false, inaccurate, or
`
`misleading” or “with reckless disregard as to its truth or
`
`falsity.” App. 582. The jury instructions did not state that
`
`ATSA immunity protects materially true statements.
`The jury found for Hoeper on the defamation claim and
`
`awarded him $849,625 in compensatory damages and
`$391,875 in punitive damages. The court reduced the
`latter award to $350,000, for a total judgment of just
`
`under $1.2 million, plus costs.
`
`
`The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed. 232 P. 3d 230
`
`(2009). It held “that the trial court properly submitted the
`ATSA immunity issue to the jury,” that “the record sup-
`——————
`1Air Wisconsin agrees that it bears responsibility for Doyle’s state-
`ments. 2012 WL 907764, *2, *16, n. 2 (Colo., Mar. 19, 2012).
`2The ATSA immunity provision specifies that “[a]ny air carrier . . . or
`any employee of an air carrier . . . who makes a voluntary disclosure
`
`of any suspicious transaction relevant to a possible violation of law or
`regulation, relating to air piracy, a threat to aircraft or passenger
`safety, or terrorism, . . . to any employee or agent of the Department of
`
`Transportation, the Department of Justice, any Federal, State, or local
`
`law enforcement officer, or any airport or airline security officer shall
`
`not be civilly liable to any person under any law or regulation of the
`
`United States, any constitution, law, or regulation of any State or
`
`
`
`political subdivision of any State, for such disclosure.” 49 U. S. C.
`
`§44941(a).
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`6
`
`
`
`
` AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`Opinion of the Court
`ports the jury’s rejection of immunity,” and that the evi-
`dence was sufficient to support the jury’s defamation
`verdict. Id., at 233.
`The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed. 2012 WL
`
`907764 (Mar. 19, 2012). It began by holding, contrary to
`
`the lower courts, “that immunity under the ATSA is a
`
`question of law to be determined by the trial court before
`
`trial.” Id., at *4. But it concluded that the trial court’s
`
`error in submitting immunity to the jury was “harmless
`
`because Air Wisconsin is not entitled to immunity.” Id., at
`
`*6. In a key footnote, the court stated: “In our determina-
`tion of immunity under the ATSA, we need not, and there-
`fore do not, decide whether the statements were true or
`false. Rather, we conclude that Air Wisconsin made the
`statements with reckless disregard as to their truth or
`falsity.”
`Id., at *16, n. 6. The court thus appears to
`have labored under the assumption that even true state-
`ments do not qualify for ATSA immunity if they are made
`recklessly.
`Applying this standard, and giving “no weight to the
`
`
`jury’s finding[s],” ibid., n. 5, the court held that “[a]l-
`though the events at the training may have warranted
`
`a report to TSA,” Air Wisconsin’s statements “overstated
`
`those events to such a degree that they were made with
`
`reckless disregard of their truth or falsity.” Id., at *7. The
`
`court opined that Air Wisconsin “would likely be immune
`
`under the ATSA if Doyle had reported that Hoeper was an
`Air Wisconsin employee, that he knew he would be termi-
`nated soon, that he had acted irrationally at the training
`three hours earlier and ‘blew up’ at test administrators,
`
`and that he was an FFDO pilot.” Id., at *8. But because
`Doyle actually told TSA “(1) that he believed Hoeper to be
`mentally unstable; (2) that Hoeper had been terminated
`earlier that day; and (3) that Hoeper may have been
`
`armed,” id., at *7, the court determined that his state-
`ments “went well beyond” the facts and did not qualify for
`
`

`

`7
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`
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` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
`
` immunity, id., at *8. The court went on to conclude that
`the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s defama-
`tion verdict.
`
`Justice Eid, joined by two others, dissented in part. She
`
`
`agreed with the majority’s holding that immunity is an
`
`issue for the court, not the jury. But she reasoned that Air
`
`Wisconsin was entitled to immunity “because [its] state-
`ments to the TSA were substantially true.” Id., at *11.
`We granted certiorari to decide “[w]hether ATSA im-
`
`munity may be denied without a determination that the
`
`air carrier’s disclosure was materially false.” 570 U. S. ___
`(2013).
`
`
`
`II
`
`
`A
`
`Congress patterned the exception to ATSA immunity
`
`
`after the actual malice standard of New York Times Co. v.
`Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254 (1964), and we have long held that
`actual malice requires material falsity. Because we pre-
`sume that Congress meant to incorporate the settled
`meaning of actual malice when it incorporated the lan-
`guage of that standard, we hold that a statement other-
`wise eligible for ATSA immunity may not be denied
`immunity unless the statement is materially false.
`In New York Times, we held that under the First
`Amendment, a public official cannot recover “for a defama-
`tory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he
`proves that the statement was made with ‘actual malice’—
`that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless
`
`disregard of whether it was false or not.” Id., at 279–
`280. Congress borrowed this exact language in denying
`
`ATSA immunity to “(1) any disclosure made with actual
`
`knowledge that the disclosure was false, inaccurate, or
`
`misleading; or (2) any disclosure made with reckless
`
`disregard as to the truth or falsity of that disclosure.”
`
`§44941(b).
`
`

`

`8
`
`
`
`
` AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`Opinion of the Court
`One could in principle construe the language of the
`
`
`actual malice standard to cover true statements made
`recklessly. But we have long held, to the contrary, that
`
`actual malice entails falsity. See, e.g., Philadelphia News-
`
`
`papers, Inc. v. Hepps, 475 U. S. 767, 775 (1986) (“[A]s one
`might expect given the language of the Court in New York
`
`Times, a public-figure plaintiff must show the falsity of the
`
`statements at issue in order to prevail in a suit for defa-
`mation” (citation omitted)); Garrison v. Louisiana, 379
`
`U. S. 64, 74 (1964) (“We held in New York Times that a
`
`
`public official might be allowed the civil remedy only if he
`establishes that the utterance was false”).
`Indeed, we have required more than mere falsity to
`
`
`establish actual malice: The falsity must be “material.”
`
`Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc., 501 U. S. 496, 517
`
`(1991). As we explained in Masson, “[m]inor inaccuracies
`do not amount to falsity so long as ‘the substance, the gist,
`
`
`the sting, of the libelous charge be justified.’” Ibid. A
`
`“statement is not considered false unless it ‘would have a
`
`different effect on the mind of the reader from that which
`the pleaded truth would have produced.’” Ibid. (quoting
`R. Sack, Libel, Slander, and Related Problems 138 (1980)).
`
`These holdings were settled when Congress enacted the
`ATSA, and we therefore presume that Congress meant to
`adopt the material falsity requirement when it incorpo-
`
`
`rated the actual malice standard into the ATSA immunity
`
`exception. “[I]t is a cardinal rule of statutory construction
`that, when Congress employs a term of art, it presumably
`
`knows and adopts the cluster of ideas that were attached
`
`to each borrowed word in the body of learning from which
`it is taken.” FAA v. Cooper, 566 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (slip
`op., at 6) (internal quotation marks omitted). The actual
`malice standard does not cover materially true statements
`made recklessly, so we presume that Congress did not
`mean to deny ATSA immunity to such statements.
`
`
`Other indicia of statutory meaning could rebut this
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`9
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`presumption, but here, they do not. First, the ATSA’s
`text favors a falsity requirement. The first subsection of
`§44941(b) requires falsity, as a true disclosure cannot have
`been made “with actual knowledge” that it “was false.”
`The only question is whether the second subsection—
`
`which denies immunity to “any disclosure made with
`reckless disregard as to [its] truth or falsity”—similarly
`requires falsity. We conclude that it does. The second
`
`subsection simply extends the immunity exception from
`knowing falsehoods to reckless ones, ensuring that an air
`carrier cannot avoid liability for a baseless report by stick-
`ing its head in the sand to avoid “actual knowledge” that
`its statements are false. “[T]he defense of truth . . . , even
`if not explicitly recognized, . . .is implicit in . . . a standard
`of recovery that rests on knowing or reckless disregard of
`the truth.” Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U. S. 469,
`
`
`498–499 (1975) (Powell, J., concurring).
`
`A material falsity requirement also serves the purpose
`
`of ATSA immunity. The ATSA shifted from airlines to the
`TSA the responsibility “for assessing and investigating
`possible threats to airline security.” 2012 WL 907764, *14
`
`(Eid, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). In
`
`directing the TSA to “receive, assess, and distribute intel-
`ligence information related to transportation security,” 49
`U. S. C. §114(f)(1), Congress wanted to ensure that air
`carriers and their employees would not hesitate to provide
`the TSA with the information it needed. This is the pur-
`pose of the immunity provision, evident both from its
`context and from the title of the statutory section that
`contained it: “encouraging airline employees to report sus-
`
`picious activities.” ATSA §125, 115 Stat. 631 (capitali-
`zation and boldface type omitted). It would defeat this
`
`purpose to deny immunity for substantially true reports,
`on the theory that the person making the report had not
`
`yet gathered enough information to be certain of its truth.
`
`Such a rule would restore the pre-ATSA state of affairs, in
`
`

`

`
` 10
`
`
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`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
` AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`Opinion of the Court
`which air carriers bore the responsibility to investigate
`and verify potential threats.
`We therefore hold that ATSA immunity may not be
`
`
`denied under §44941(b) to materially true statements.
`
`This interpretation of the statute is clear enough that
`
`Hoeper effectively concedes it. See Brief for Respondent
`30 (acknowledging that if the Colorado Supreme Court
`actually said “‘an airline may be denied ATSA immunity
`. . . for reporting true information,’” then “the court was
`likely wrong”). Hoeper does point out in a footnote that
`given Congress’ desire to deny immunity to “‘bad actors,’”
`and “given that the vast majority of reckless statements
`will not turn out to be true[,] . . . Congress could have
`quite reasonably chosen to deny the special privilege of
`
`ATSA immunity to all reckless speakers,” even those
`
`whose statements turned out to be true. Id., at 30, n. 12.
`But although Congress could have made this choice, noth-
`ing about the statute’s text or purpose suggests that it
`actually did. Instead, Congress chose to model the excep-
`
`tion to ATSA immunity after a standard we have long
`
`construed to require material falsity.
`B
`
`We are not persuaded by Hoeper’s arguments that
`we should affirm the judgment of the Colorado Supreme
`Court notwithstanding its misapprehension of the ATSA
`
`immunity standard.
`
`
`Hoeper first argues that Air Wisconsin forfeited the
`claim that it is entitled to immunity because its state-
`
`ments were materially true. His premise is that Air
`Wisconsin argued the truth of its statements only in chal-
`lenging the evidentiary basis for the defamation verdict, not
`
`in asserting immunity. But Air Wisconsin’s brief before
`
`the Colorado Supreme Court argued that the exception to
`ATSA immunity “appears to incorporate the New York
`Times actual malice standard,” which—as we have ex-
`
`

`

`
`
`
`11
`
`
`
`
`Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
` plained—requires material falsity. Petitioner’s Opening
`Brief in No. 09SC1050, p. 24.
`Hoeper next argues that the Colorado Supreme Court
`
`performed the requisite analysis of material falsity, albeit
`in the context of finding the record sufficient to support
`
`the jury’s defamation verdict. For several reasons, however,
`
`this analysis does not suffice for us to affirm the denial
`of ATSA immunity. First, to the extent that the immunity
`
`determination belongs to the court—as the Colorado Su-
`preme Court held—a court’s deferential review of jury
`findings cannot substitute for its own analysis of the
`record. Second, the jury here did not find that any falsity
`
`in Air Wisconsin’s statements was material, because the
`trial court instructed it only to determine whether “[o]ne
`
`or more of th[e] statements was false,” App. 580, without
`addressing materiality. Third, applying the material
`
`
`falsity standard to a defamation claim is quite different
`from applying it to ATSA immunity. In both contexts,
`
`a materially false statement is one that “‘would have a
`different effect on the mind of the reader [or listener] from
`that which the . . . truth would have produced.’” Masson,
`
`501 U. S., at 517. But the identity of the relevant reader
`
`or listener varies according to the context. In determining
`whether a falsehood is material to a defamation claim, we
`care whether it affects the subject’s reputation in the
`
`community. In the context of determining ATSA immu-
`
`nity, by contrast, we care whether a falsehood affects the
`
`authorities’ perception of and response to a given threat.3
`——————
`3These are very different inquiries. Suppose the TSA receives the
`
`following tip: “My adulterous husband is carrying a gun onto a flight.”
`
`Whether the husband is adulterous will presumably have no effect on
`
`
`
`the TSA’s assessment of any security risk that he poses. So if the word
`
`“adulterous” is false, the caller may still be entitled to ATSA immunity.
`
`But any falsity as to that word obviously would affect the husband’s
`
`reputation in the community, so it would be material in the context of a
`defamation claim.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
` 12
`
`
`
`
` AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
` III
`Finally, the Colorado Supreme Court’s analysis of mate-
`
`rial falsity was erroneous. We turn next to explaining
`why, by applying the ATSA immunity standard to the
`
`facts of this case.4
`
`
`A
`
`We begin by addressing how to determine the material-
`ity of a false statement in the ATSA context.

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