To what point does the First Amendment guarantee that someone may speak freely about someone else, albeit in a negative light? Here, it will be examined: what constitutes defamation. what constitutes free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. and what happens in defamation cases. In other words, defamation of a person can range from someone making a comment or critique in presence of a third party or can include written communications that a third party sees. (This does not include personal letters to one person that are not seen by a third party.)5 Anything defamatory is considered that which tends to injure reputation…diminish[es] the esteem, respect, goodwill or confidence in which the plaintiff is held, or…excite[s] adverse, derogatory or unpleasant feelings or opinions against him.6 A communication is considered defamatory if it tends to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community or to deter third persons from associating or dealing with him.7 In this instance, the meaning of a communication is that which the recipient correctly, or mistakenly but reasonably, understands that it was intended to express.8 First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech, along with the freedom of religion, the press, and peaceful assembly. Specifically, the First Amendment reads as follows: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Madison’s original draft of the First Amendment read The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments.
Defamation and the First Amendment