Street Law: A Course in Practical Law

Chapter 38: Freedom of the Press

Cases and Resources

Prohibiting Publication
Denying the Press Access to Information
Requiring the Press to Disclose Information

Overview of Freedom of the Press
Read a short overview of the freedom of the press. From this article, link to the significant cases that help define freedom of the press. How do the courts handle the press and false information?

American Library Association: Banned Books
Have you ever read a banned book? If so, you have read something that has been censored. Learn more about banned books. What is it about the content of some books that leads people to try to ban them?

Arkansas Educational Television Commission v. Forbes
Read a summary or the full text of the decision in the Supreme Court case described in your text in The Case of the Candidates' Televised Debate. Why was the third-party candidate excluded from the debate?

Exclusion from Presidential Debates
Examine an article discussing the exclusion of third-party candidates from the 2000 presidential election. Should third-party candidates be included in presidential debates?

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Prohibiting Publication
Judiciary Gag Orders
Read an overview of gag orders issued by courts in cases of high publicity. From this page, link to the frequently asked questions about gag orders to learn more about the concept. You may also link to the significant cases in which gag orders have played a role.

Secret Justice: Gag Orders
This feature on gag orders is maintained by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Journalists often see gag orders as an interference with First Amendment rights. Do you think gag orders are ever appropriate?

Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart
Read a summary of the 1976 Supreme Court case in which a gag order was found unconstitutional. From this page, you can also link to other resources including the oral arguments. What other options are available to maintain fairness of a trial when high publicity is a concern?

The Doctrine of Prior Restraint
This clear and thorough explanation of prior restraint describes how important cases have defined when it is appropriate for a court to prohibit publication of certain information. In what types of cases has prior restraint been found constitutional?

Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia
In this 1980 case mentioned in your text, the Supreme Court held that the public has the right to attend criminal trials. In what circumstances might the Court allow a closed trial?

New York Times v. United States: The Pentagon Papers Case
Read a summary of the 1971 Supreme Court case allowing the publication of top-secret Pentagon documents concerning the Vietnam War. From this page, you may also link to the full decision, the oral arguments, and other resources.

Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing Company
Browse a summary of the Supreme Court case striking down a law prohibiting the publication of juvenile offender's names. From this page, you may also link to the full decision, the oral arguments, and other resources.

Access to Juvenile Courts
Juvenile courts often limit press access to hearings or records in the interest of protecting the minors involved. Read this overview of press access to juvenile courts. From this page, you can link to the state-by-state laws of press access to juvenile courts.

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Denying the Press Access to Information
Freedom of Information Act
Read the text of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966. What values are promoted by the FOIA?

U.S. Department of Justice: FOIA
The federal government maintains a site specifically designed to help the public understand FOIA and to seek information through FOIA.

Freedom of Information Center
This site is dedicated to the right to access public records, both federal and local. Read some of the current news stories displayed on the home page to learn about the hot issues being debated today.

Pentagon Limits Media Access to Funerals
Access by the press to funerals of soldiers killed in action is limited in the interest of the soldier's family. Explore the debate surrounding this restriction on the press to cover these funerals.

Houchins v. KQED Inc.
Read a summary of the 1977 Supreme Court case regarding media access to investigate conditions in a prison. Why does the Court deny access to the prison?

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Requiring the Press to Disclose Information
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press represents journalists in an effort to protect both sources of information and the right to access information from the government. Browse this Web site to learn more about current issues with which the RCFP is involved.

Branznburg v. Hayes
Read this case in which the Supreme Court refused to extend any special first amendment protection to reporters refusing to identify their sources. What are the best arguments on each side of this issue?

Legal Protections for Journalists' Sources and Information
Read this overview of the legal issues surrounding a court's ability to force journalists to disclose sources. Does your state have a shield law for journalists?

Who Is Protected by Shield Laws?
If a shield law exists in a specific state, who does this law protect? Courts must decide if a person is actually a reporter or a journalist to know if the information or source must be disclosed.

New Jersey Shield Law
Read the New Jersey Shield Law in conjunction with The Case of the Shield Law in your text.

New York Times Company v. Jascalevich
Read the Supreme Court's decision not to hear The Case of the Shield Law. The state trial judge found the reporter's information to be too important to the defense of the doctor charged with murder. Do you agree with this decision?

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