In 1971, a group of activists known as the “Pentagon Papers” released a series of documents detailing the U.S. government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The documents were leaked by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, and they quickly became a topic of national discussion.
In response to the release of the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. government filed a lawsuit against Ellsberg and the New York Times. The government argued that the release of the documents constituted a breach of national security.
In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the New York Times and ruled that the First Amendment of the Constitution protected the right of the press to publish information in the public interest. The decision was a major victory for the journalism community, and it helped to establish the principle of freedom of the press.
Table of Contents
- 1 What did the Supreme Court rule in the Pentagon Papers case?
- 2 What was the basis of Justice Black’s opinion?
- 3 How did New York Times v U.S. get to the Supreme Court?
- 4 What happened in Schenck v United States?
- 5 Who leaked the Pentagon Papers?
- 6 How did the government justify stopping the Pentagon Papers?
- 7 How did Justice Black differ from the majority opinion?
What did the Supreme Court rule in the Pentagon Papers case?
The Pentagon Papers case was a landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could not prevent The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing classified documents about the Vietnam War.
The case began in 1971, when The New York Times published a series of articles called The Pentagon Papers, which revealed that the U.S. government had been lying to the public about the progress of the Vietnam War. The U.S. government quickly tried to block further publication of the documents, but The New York Times and The Washington Post fought back, arguing that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protected their right to publish the documents.
In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with The New York Times and The Washington Post, ruling that the government could not prevent the publication of classified documents. The case was a major victory for the freedom of the press and helped to establish the principle that the government cannot censor the media.
What was the basis of Justice Black’s opinion?
Justice Hugo Lafayette Black’s opinion in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States was based on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Black argued that the government could not censor the New York Times due to the freedom of the press guaranteed by the amendment. He also argued that the government could not prevent the publication of the Pentagon Papers due to the freedom of speech guaranteed by the amendment.
How did New York Times v U.S. get to the Supreme Court?
The New York Times v. United States case is a landmark Supreme Court case that decided whether the New York Times could publish the Pentagon Papers.
The case began in 1971, when the New York Times published a series of articles about the Vietnam War based on a leaked government report known as the Pentagon Papers. The Nixon administration quickly filed a lawsuit against the New York Times, arguing that the publication of the Pentagon Papers was a violation of the Espionage Act.
The Supreme Court heard the case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the New York Times. The court ruled that the First Amendment protected the right of the New York Times to publish the Pentagon Papers. This ruling was a major victory for the free press and helped to define the role of the press in American society.
What happened in Schenck v United States?
In the 1919 case of Schenck v United States, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment right to free speech does not protect speech that produces a “clear and present danger.” The case involved Charles Schenck, the secretary of the Socialist Party of America, who was arrested and convicted for sending leaflets to drafted soldiers encouraging them to resist the draft.
The Supreme Court upheld Schenck’s conviction, ruling that the First Amendment does not protect speech that is likely to cause immediate harm. In his majority opinion, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”
The “clear and present danger” test has been used by the Supreme Court in subsequent cases to rule on the constitutionality of speech restrictions.
Who leaked the Pentagon Papers?
On June 13, 1971, The New York Times published a series of articles based on a leaked top-secret Pentagon study entitled “United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967.” The study, commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in 1967, revealed that the Johnson administration had lied to the public about the progress of the Vietnam War.
The leaker was later identified as Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department official and RAND Corporation analyst who had become increasingly disillusioned with the war. Ellsberg had photocopied the report and given it to several friends, including Anthony Russo, a fellow activist. Russo later helped Ellsberg hand the report over to the Times.
The Nixon administration immediately began efforts to track down the leakers and block the publication of the papers. Ellsberg and Russo were both charged with espionage, but the charges were eventually dropped due to prosecutorial misconduct.
The Pentagon Papers leak helped to galvanize the anti-war movement and contributed to the growing public opposition to the Vietnam War.
How did the government justify stopping the Pentagon Papers?
The U.S. government justified stopping the publication of the Pentagon Papers by invoking the Espionage Act of 1917. The act makes it a crime to disclose information that could be used to harm the United States or help its enemies. The government argued that the papers could help the North Vietnamese military in their war against the U.S.
How did Justice Black differ from the majority opinion?
Justice Hugo Black was one of the most controversial Supreme Court justices in American history. A self-proclaimed “libertarian socialist,” Black was often at odds with the Court’s conservative majority. In the case of Korematsu v. United States, decided in 1944, Black was the sole dissenter.
The majority of the Court, led by Justice Robert Jackson, upheld the government’s decision to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II. Black argued that the internment camps violated the Constitution’s guarantee of due process. He wrote, “I dissent, because I think the record presents a clear and convincing case of racial discrimination which offends theConstitution.”
Black’s dissent was not well-received by the public. Many saw him as being soft on terrorism and unsupportive of the war effort. In the years that followed, Black’s reputation suffered as a result of his stance in the Korematsu case.