Prior Restraints

Still taken from the film The Post

“The Post,” Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks—What They Teach Us About Freedom of the Press

The new movie, The Post, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks dramatizes a pivotal moment in U.S. history when the press was threatened and almost silenced if not for the brave decisions of publishers willing to fight for press freedom.The Pentagon Papers also known as the “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force” were commissioned in 1967 to study U.S. decision-making before and during the conflict in Vietnam. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a consultant who had worked on the 7,000-page classified study, leaked it to The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Nixon Administration sought to stop both papers from publishing stories based on the leaked documents. In New York Times v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled against prior restraint and allowed publication to move forward. We look at lessons from the film, the importance of the case and what prior restraint means.

January 2, 2018 News Gathering, Prior Restraints
Iowa Supreme Court

Iowa Judge Who Told Des Moines Register to Stop Story Publication Reverses His Own Order

December 19, 2017: Judge Reverses Prior Restraint Order, Plaintiff Says He Will Apply to US Supreme Court  Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins reversed his prior restraint order, allowing the Des Moines Register to publish its piece about lawyer Jaysen McCleary. The Des Moines Register quotes McCleary stating he will take the case to the US Supreme Court. December 16,[Read More…]

December 20, 2017 Prior Restraints, Top Stories
Judge Refuses to Enforce Prior Restraint Against EFF

Judge Refuses to Enforce Prior Restraint Against EFF

November 17, 2017: Federal Judge Says Australian Court Cannot Tell US-based EFF To Take Down Article A federal judge ruled that an order issued by an Australian court to take down an article published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation could not be enforced in the United States. EFF had published a story on June 30, 2016 that featured the Global[Read More…]

November 19, 2017 Censorship, Prior Restraints, Top Stories
United States Supreme Court Building

Prior Restraint: Strong Protection Against Government Censorship

Prior restraints go at least as far back as 16th century England, when invention of the printing press made it possible to spread dissent and new ideas widely. Such publications could pose a threat to the Crown or accepted religious doctrine, so Henry VIII instituted a system of licensing and censorship to control the spread of ideas. The licensing and[Read More…]

September 11, 2017 Legal Cases, Prior Restraints
Can Journalists Be Silenced?

Can Journalists Be Silenced?

The most serious violation of First Amendment rights is considered to be prior restraints—judicial orders to stop publication of material in advance through the issuance of an injunction. With a prior restraint, ideas and news never see the light of day and so never enter the marketplace of ideas. Prior restraints are heavily disfavored and are assumed to be unconstitutional[Read More…]

April 1, 2017 Censorship, Prior Restraints