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The National Law Journal: Fourth Circuit Appears Ready to Toss North Carolina Law Criminalizing ‘Defamation’ of Political FoesDecember 06, 2022
Lawyers from O’Melveny & Myers LLP made arguments before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit claiming that a North Carolina criminal defamation law relating to political candidates is unconstitutional. The state’s Attorney General, Josh Stein, is accused of violating the law through comments he made about his 2020 campaign opponent, Jim O’Neill. “The interest of the state and the United States in campaigns that are free from derogatory and false campaign speech is apparent, but the necessity of a criminal statute to enforce that is not,” said O’Melveny partner Michael R. Dreeben. “A criminal defamation statute aimed to protect someone’s reputation is neither necessary or narrowly tailored. The state hasn’t shown that a civil damages defamation remedy is inadequate.” Stein is represented by Dreeben, partner Meaghan VerGow, and associate Jenya Godina.
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