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Branzburg v. Hayes

United States Supreme Court
408 U.S. 665 (1972)



Branzburg, a staff reporter for the Courier-Journal, wrote an article describing in detail his observation of two young residents of Jefferson County synthesizing hashish from marijuana. Branzburg was subpoenaed but refused to identify the residents. A state trial court judge ordered him to answer and rejected his argument that his refusal was protected by the First Amendment. Pappas, a television newsman-photographer secretly recorded and photographed a prepared statement read by a leader of the Black Panthers. Pappas was later summoned before the Bristol County Grand Jury and asked what he observed with the Black Panthers. He refused to answer any questions, citing the First Amendment protection of the freedom of the press. Earl Caldwell, a New York Times reporter, covered the Black Panther Party’s activities. He refused to respond to a subpoena requiring him to produce information gathered about this group. Hayes and other prosecutors (plaintiffs) held Branzburg, Pappas, and Caldwell (defendants) in contempt of court. Branzburg, Pappas, and Caldwell challenged their contempt convictions on the ground that the First Amendment protected them. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider the consolidated cases.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Stewart, J.)

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