Freedom of the Press: The First Amendment

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The press in the United States is freer than in any other country in the world, and virtually any in history. American courts give critics of society and government extraordinary freedom to disseminate views that are unpopular, subversive, and even hateful. How did freedom of the press evolve over the centuries, what values does American press freedom claim to serve today, and what challenges will this right face in the twenty-first century? These are some of the important questions addressed in this scholarly but accessible volume on one of our most important freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Award-winning legal scholar Garrett Epps has selected significant historical and contemporary articles in addition to a sampling of key cases on freedom of the press in this outstanding collection. Beginning with a history of the idea of press freedom in England and America, he includes classic essays by John Milton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Stuart Mill, among others. A selection of landmark cases follows, which span the twentieth century and include such major issues as censorship vs. national security, reporters’ protected sources, the definition of obscenity, and other issues. A section of contemporary essays includes contributions by Justice Hugo Black, Justice Potter Stewart, Alexander Meiklejohn, Robert Bork, and others.

In conclusion, Epps offers brief selections from other cultures on freedom of the press and he examines the unprecedented challenges to a free press in the twenty-first century from a global Internet culture that allows information to cross all borders and makes the definition of journalism fuzzy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591025634
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 1/29/2008
  • Series: Bill of Rights Series
  • Format: Tech Doc
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Garrett Epps (Eugene, OR) is the Orlando John & Marian H. Hollis Professor of Law at the University of Oregon School of Law. He is the author of Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America; To an Unknown God: Religious Freedom on Trial; two novels; and many scholarly articles.

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Table of Contents

Series Editor's Preface David B. Oppenheimer 11

Acknowledgments 15

Introduction Garrett Epps 17

Part I Historical Foundations

Areopagitica John Milton 29

"An Apology for the Printers" Benjamin Franklin 40

"An American 'Cato' Defends Criticism of the Government" Cato 46

"Sentiments on the Liberty of the Press" Andrew Bradford 52

Andrew Hamilton Defends John Peter Zenger Andrew Hamilton 57

"Libels; Liberty of the Press" William Blackstone 65

"The Federalist No. 84" Alexander Hamilton 68

Reply to the Pennsylvania Minority Noah Webster 71

"Letter to Edward Carrington" Thomas Jefferson 74

"The Virginia Report of 1799" James Madison 76

From Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville 87

Part II Expansion Through Case Law

Contempt of Court: Patterson v. Colorado 99

Publishing Dissenting Views in Wartime: Frohwerk v. United States 103

"Prior Restraint": Near v. Minnesota 107

The Press and the "Taxes on Knowledge": Grosjean v. American Press Company 115

The End of Seditious Libel: New York Times v. Sullivan 121

Broadcast Licensees and "Fairness": Red Lion Broadcasting Company v. FCC 133

Censorship and "National Security": New York Times v. United States 141

Is There a "Journalist's Privilege"?: Branzburg v. Hayes 151

Narrowing Obscenity: Miller v. California 164

Newspapers and "the Right of Reply": Miami Herald v. Tornillo 170

Free Press and Fair Trial: Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart 176

Reporting on Judicial Discipline: Landmark Communications, Inc. v. Virginia 188

Prior Restraint and the End of the World: United States v. Progressive, Inc. 195

"Pornography" and Women's Rights:American Booksellers Association, Inc. v. Hudnut 203

Offensive Parody: Hustler Magazine v. Falwell 210

Access to Criminal Trials: Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia 216

Promises of Confidentiality as "Contracts": Cohen v. Cowles Media 226

Free Speech on the Internet: Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union 233

Part III Contemporary Thoughts

"The Bill of Rights" Hugo L. Black 245

From Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment Thomas Emerson 256

"Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems" Robert H. Bork 272

"Or of the Press" Potter Stewart 281

"The Media That Citizens Need" C. Edwin Baker 286

From the preface to Emergence of a Free Press Leonard W. Levy 300

"Rethinking Prior Restraint" John Calvin Jeffries Jr. 307

"Or of the [Blog]" Paul Horwitz 322


Constitution of the United States of America 341

Amendments to the Constitution 357

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