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
Key Documents: Section I. Journalism, Media, and the Law - Reporter's Privilege to Withhold Information
Paul Branzburg wrote investigative pieces for the Louisville Courier-Journal in 1969 and 1971 where he gave first-hand accounts of illegal drug activities. He then battled two separate grand jury orders to reveal the identities of his sources. Branzburg lost his fight at both the state appellate level and in a tight 5–4 decision at the Supreme Court. But a rare, landmark dissenting opinion turned Branzburg v. Hayes into a qualified victory—as well as a clear defeat—for the right of journalists to protect their confidential sources in court. The plight of two other journalists, who had also defied grand juries in a similar fashion, was bundled into the Branzburg case. Justice Byron White wrote a majority opinion that specifically rejected the First Amendment as a buffer against compelling journalists to testify in criminal cases in front of a grand jury. White believed the Court could not ascribe to the idea that ...