Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Supreme Court and Journalism
The American constitutional guarantee of a free press works because an independent judiciary headed by the U.S. Supreme Court has enforced the promise for more than 200 years. The courts are the instrument that gives life to the First Amendment's words that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.…” There is almost nothing that American journalists do that has not been affected by rulings of the Supreme Court. While protecting essential elements of news media freedom, the Supreme Court (and the lower courts which must follow its rulings) has sought to balance the rights of journalists against competing claims to constitutional protection. These include rights to reputation and privacy, fair trial rights, and the needs of government to maintain order and public safety. In determining the rights and duties of the press, the Court usually has given reporters no greater rights than nonjournalists ...