ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. Milkovich (Petitioner) brought suit against Lorain Journal Co. (Respondent), when it published an article, which implied Petitioner had lied under oath in a judicial proceeding.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The First Amendment does not preclude a newspaper from being sued for libel, when a plaintiff can show that statements published were an attack on reputation.
A court will review to be sure that the speech in question actually falls within the unprotected category and to confine the perimeters of any unprotected category within acceptably narrow limits in an effort to ensure that protected expression will not be inhibited.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether a newspaper can be held liable for defamation, when it publishes an article about a private figure which, albeit opinion, was designed as a character attack?
* The Court reversed the lower court ruling that the article constituted a constitutionally protected opinion, and held that while the First Amendment does guarantee uninhibited speech, the important social values underlying the law of defamation recognize a strong interest in preventing and redressing character attacks.
Discussion. The First Amendment gives great leniency to newspapers and their journalists; however, the constitution also recognizes that defamation can exist, when an article is published specifically to attack another’s character.