Nebraska Press Association V. Stuart Case Study

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The Supreme of the United States is the body entrusted with interpreting the Constitution in relation to cases whose outcomes will establish precedents with weighty, far reaching legal implications. In many such cases, the conflicting parties may both claim that their actions or (in the case of public officials) rulings, are protected by one or more amendments to the constitution. In reconciling these conflicts, justices must reckon with the intent of laws written centuries ago in relation to contemporary issues. They must also make decisions where the scope of one legally protected right comes into conflict with another. The 1976 case, Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, provides an example of this nuanced, subtle process and highlights the way in which Supreme Court decisions have potentially monumental, everlasting consqequences. Prior restraint, the principle by which the government seeks to censor specific information from publication, having already been limited in scope in the 1931 decision yielded by Near v. Minnesota, would again be subject to a constitutional stress-test in 1976. At the center of the controversy was Erwin Charles Simants, a Nebraska man accused of murdering six people, all of whom were members of the same family and his neighbors, in 1975. Soon after Simants ' arrest, a deluge of journalists descended on the…show more content…
Stuart, is a landmark case in laws pertaining to the press and media at large. It established not only a powerful precedent on what can be subject to prior restraint but also what should be subject to prior restraint. To muzzle the press and not let the public be privy to information regarding the case was deemed to be a far more grievous affront to the First Amendment Rights of the masses than doing otherwise would be for the Sixth Amendment rights of Simants. In deciding as they did, Burger’s court strengthened the mandate of the fourth-estate and helped to ensure its ability as a check on

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