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.
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.