Peter Banta (1935-2016) was a New Jersey-based attorney active in First Amendment law. He represented a litany of leading media entities in his career, including Time, Inc. and The New York Times Company.
Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, Banta earned his undergraduate degree at Williams College and his law degree from Harvard University. He practiced law at his law firm Winne Banta for more than 55 years.
Banta worked First Amendment cases
In his First Amendment practice, Banta co-defended The New York Times and its reporter Myron Farber from an attempt by authorities to force Farber to disclose his confidential sources. In that litigation, Banta worked with New York libel law attorney Floyd Abrams. The Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in In Re Farber (1978) that Farber could be held in contempt for refusing to disclose his sources.
Banta successfully defended Time magazine in a libel lawsuit Schiavone v. Fortune a.k.a Time, Inc. (1986). Banta successfully defended the media entity on civil procedure grounds related to the refiling of complaints and the statute of limitations. He also filed an amicus brief in another defamation case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court – Philadelphia Newspapers v. Hepps (1986).
David L. Hudson, Jr. is a law professor at Belmont who publishes widely on First Amendment topics. He is the author of a 12-lecture audio course on the First Amendment entitled Freedom of Speech: Understanding the First Amendment (Now You Know Media, 2018). He also is the author of many First Amendment books, including The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech (Thomson Reuters, 2012) and Freedom of Speech: Documents Decoded (ABC-CLIO, 2017). This article was originally published in 2017.