UB law school professor Samantha Barbas was photographed in O’Brian Hall in March 2023. Photographer: Douglas Levere.

Samantha Barbas, March 2023. Photograph courtesy of Douglas Levere.

Samantha Barbas is the director of The Baldy Center, effective Summer 2019. Her work focuses on the intersection of law, culture, media and technology in United States history. Her recent research has explored the history of censorship, privacy and defamation.

Barbas holds a PhD in U.S. history from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D from Stanford Law School. She was previously a professor of history at Chapman University, a visiting professor of history at U.C. Berkeley, and a lecturer at Arizona State University. She clerked for Judge Richard Clifton on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Honolulu.

Research Focus: First Amendment Law, American Legal History, Privacy Law, Mass Communications Law

Barbas is the author of:

  • Actual Malice: Civil Rights and Freedom of the Press in New York Times v. Sullivan (UC Press, 2023);  
  • The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst: Free Speech Renegade (University of Chicago Press, May 2021); 
  • Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine (Chicago Review Press, 2018); 
  • Newsworthy: The Supreme Court Battle Over Privacy and Press Freedom (Stanford University Press, 2017); 
  • Laws of Image: Privacy and Publicity in America (Stanford University Press, 2015);
  •  The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons (University of California Press, 2005); 
  •  Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001).

Barbas' books have been reviewed in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other news media outlets. In 2020, she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award for her book in progress, on the Supreme Court First Amendment case New York Times v. Sullivan. Barbas is an adviser on the Restatement of the Law (Third) of Torts: Defamation and Privacy.