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Defamation
"But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed."
OTHELLO
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Milkovich

v.

Lorain Journal Co.
Defamation

Chief Justice Rehnquist Opinion
June 21, 1990
Seal Of The Supreme Court
Excerpt:

Respondent J. Theodore Diadiun authored an article in an Ohio newspaper implying that petitioner Michael Milkovich, a local high school wrestling coach, lied under oath in a judicial proceeding about an incident involving petitioner and his team which occurred at a wrestling match. Petitioner sued Diadiun and the newspaper for libel, and the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court entry of summary judgment against petitioner. This judgment was based in part on the grounds that the article constituted an "opinion" protected from the reach of state defamation law by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. We hold that the First Amendment does not prohibit the application of Ohio's libel laws to the alleged defamations contained in the article.

... Since the latter half of the 16th century, the common law has afforded a cause of action for damage to a person's reputation by the publication of false and defamatory statements.

In Shakespeare's OTHELLO, Iago says to Othello:

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord.
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash;
'Tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

Defamation law developed not only as a means of allowing an individual to vindicate his good name, but also for the purpose of obtaining redress for harm caused by such statements.


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