Prior Restraint Analysis

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Scholars have tried to determine what the framers of the U.S. Constitution meant by writing the First Amendment. The press is constantly fights against restrictions from the federal government, prior restraints, censorship, accusations of libel, privacy, and the right of access. The federal government has tried to restrict the press’ access to information: the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798, the Espionage Act of 1918, the Smith Act of 1940, and the Cold War congressional investigations. The Alien and Sedition Laws made it illegal to write anything scandalous against any government entity. The law expired when Thomas Jefferson pardoned everyone who was found guilty under the law. The Espionage Act of 1918 declared journalists could not write…show more content…
The Supreme Court has allowed prior restraint in certain instances. In Near v. Minnesota, the Supreme Court did not condemn prior restraint, but it did state the government could limit information about military action and could control obscenity. The Pentagon Papers were excepts from a book called History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Vietnam Policy. The top secret documents were leaked to the The New York Times by David Ellsberg. The federal government tried to stop the publication of the story, but the Supreme Court found the federal government did not provide a necessary reason for prior restraint. The next incident was in 1979 when editors of The Progressive magazine announced they would publish about making a bomb based on government documents. The federal government did try to stop the publication, but the magazine published the story…show more content…
Libel is a false statement that damages a person’s character or reputation by exposing that person to ridicule. In the New York Times v. Sullivan case, the New York Times printed an article about Alabama politicians harassing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and L.B. Sullivan sued the newspaper for libel. Sullivan won in Alabama, but lost in the Supreme Court. To prove libel of a public official, the official must prove the defendant published information with the knowledge of its falsity or out of reckless disregard. Three court cases furthered the Sullivan decision. Getz V. Robert Welch, Inc. established the public can express their opinion. Herbert V. Lando established a public figure can use the discovery process to determine a reporter’s state of mind. Masson V. New York furthered defined the definition of
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