MORE ARTICLES FROM ‘Freedom Of The Press’

News racks & newspaper street sales

The regulation of news racks and newspaper street sales presents an intriguing clash between newspaper publishers’ First Amendment rights and cities’ interests in aesthetics and safety.

Photography & the First Amendment

You would think that if you are in a public space and you can see something — an object, a person, an incident — then you could also photograph or film it. The reality is not that simple.
Just in the last few years, some interesting stories have cropped up in the news concerning photographers. A [...]

Criminal libel

Libel may be a private wrong or a public wrong (or perhaps both), depending on the identity of the party bringing suit and the type of remedy sought. As a private wrong, it involves an individual or small group claiming to have been defamed and suing for civil libel — also known [...]


For years the Internet has been hailed as a First Amendment fantasyland where freedom of expression could reach its zenith. U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell wrote in ACLU v. Reno, a leading Internet free-speech case that later reached the U.S. Supreme Court and dealt with the regulation of online pornography, that the [...]

Privacy & newsgathering

“Privacy is the battleground of the future.” — Lee Levine, leading First Amendment attorney
Perhaps the greatest clash involving freedom speech has been the continuing collision between freedom of the press and the right to privacy. Many First Amendment advocates view this clash as the greatest threat to First Amendment freedoms. The press has been targeted [...]

HIPAA & newsgathering

Journalists throughout the country are wrestling with the impact of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal health-privacy law that went into effect April 14, 2003.1
Fortunately, HIPAA does not regulate what the news media can report about. Nonetheless, journalists should be prepared to deal with and, if necessary, challenge, the manner in which [...]

Journalist access

The First Amendment bars Congress from making any law abridging freedom of speech or of the press. These rights generally involve the dissemination of information, not the collection of it. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court said in Branzburg v. Hayes (1972) that the right to free press “could be eviscerated” if [...]

Shield laws

State shield statutes & leading cases

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in Branzburg v. Hayes that “news gathering is not without First Amendment protections.” The justices, however, could not agree about the form or breadth of those protections. As a result, no nationally recognized newsgatherer’s privilege exists. Instead, the protections currently in place for [...]

State constitutions

Few legal issues have generated such a wealth of case law and commentary as freedom of the press, so that my present overview cannot possibly be comprehensive. I accordingly focus on a topic that has long been important to me as a state court judge: the role of state constitutional law in preserving freedom of [...]

Courtroom access

In 1884, Oliver Wendell Holmes, then a justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Court, held in Cowley v. Pulsifer (137 Mass. 392) that members of the public enjoy a right of access to civil trials. This right, he said, is rooted in democratic principles:
“It is desirable that the trial of [civil] causes should take place under [...]

Cameras in the courtroom

Despite the passion of broadcasters’ arguments and improvements in their technology, courts so far have refused to recognize a First Amendment right to televise court proceedings. Whether trials can be broadcast thus has been left to the policymakers in the federal and state courts.
Perhaps not surprisingly, those policymakers have produced a wide variety of rules [...]

Gag orders

Delicate in neither name nor use, gag orders are becoming the judiciary’s favored means for controlling publicity about court proceedings.
Though gag orders take many forms, the most common is a trial judge’s order prohibiting the participants in a case — the parties, lawyers, law enforcement officials and witnesses — from talking to the news media. [...]


Although the authors of the First Amendment did not foresee the days when
radio microphones and television cameras would revolutionize the news and
entertainment industries, courts generally have had little problem extending the
freedom of the press to broadcasters.
Like print journalists, broadcasters enjoy freedom from prior restraint, the
right of access to court proceedings, and protections against chilling
defamation and [...]

Prior restraint

Perhaps no First Amendment right is more secure than the news media’s right to publish information free from government censorship. While public officials frequently wish they could prevent newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations from publishing sensitive or embarrassing information, their ability to censor the media is extremely limited. These limits on prior restraint (as such [...]

Libel & defamation

The First Amendment rights of free speech and free press often clash with the interests served by defamation law.
The press exists in large part to report on issues of public concern. However, individuals possess a right not to be subjected to falsehoods that impugn their character. The clash between the two rights can lead to [...]