452branzburgcasebrief - undermine the ability of the press...

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Hillary Szawala 6-11-10 Branzburg v. Hayes Facts: Branzburg, a newspaper reporter, published several articles describing unlawful drug activities in Kentucky. He refused, on first amendment grounds, to disclose to a state grand jury the identities of the persons whose activities he had described. Issue: whether requiring newsmen to appear and testify before state or federal grand juries abridges the freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment. Holding: The First Amendment's protection of press freedom does not give a reporter privilege in court. Rationale: Justice White declared that the petitioners were asking the Court "to grant newsmen a testimonial privilege that other citizens do not enjoy. This we decline to do." He acknowledged the argument that refusing to recognize such a privilege would
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Unformatted text preview: undermine the ability of the press to gather news, but wrote that, "from the beginning of the country, the press has operated without constitutional protection for press informants, and the press has flourished." The court did not question the significance of free speech, press, or assembly to the country’s welfare. The sole issue is the obligation of reporters to respond to grand jury subpoenas as other citizens do and to answer questions relevant to an investigation into the commission of crime. He said that we also do not expect that courts will forget that grand juries must operate within the limits of the First Amendment. Concurring Justice Powell emphasized the “limited nature” of the decision....
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