In a libel action at common law, proof of a defamatory publication established liability unless either truth or privilege could be shown. Damage to the plaintiff's reputation was presumed, entitling him to general damages. In the United States, the punishment of libelous words did not raise a constitutional problem, although the Constitution prevented restraint of publication.
Tort Law-Constitutional Privilege Does Not Extend to Defamation Concerning a Private Individual on a Public Issue,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
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