16 - Notes - April 16, 2008 JMS 440 Legal Issues Libel Law...

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April 16, 2008 JMS 440 Legal Issues – Libel Law – 1 st Amendment (prime legal justification to protect what the press does) No other business that has explicit constitutional protection other than the press Designed to prevent government interference with what information is made available to the public Issue of prior restraint: attempt to block the release of information so the public doesn’t have access to it Prior restraint may be permissible when: National security is at risk The material is deemed obscene The material would incite people to engage in unlawful behavior (imminent violence or overthrow of the government) The material includes “fighting words” (language that presents a danger of imminent violence) Only available for government entities Pentagon papers in 1971 – Nixon tried to prevent NYT from printing articles on the Vietnam War Paper’s showed that administration knew they would not win war going into it and that the number of casualties was greater than they reported Ellsberg leaked document information to NYT Access to Public Records Freedom of Information Act – federal law that guarantees and protects the public’s right to obtain information from federal government agencies 1970’s Watergate lead to broader coverage and greater compliance under FIA
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16 - Notes - April 16, 2008 JMS 440 Legal Issues Libel Law...

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