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Houchins v. KQED

United States Supreme Court
438 U.S. 1 (1978)


Houchins (defendant), sheriff of Alameda County, controls all access to the Alameda County Jail. KQED (plaintiff) operates licensed television and radio broadcasting stations and requested permission to inspect and take pictures within the Greystone facility. After permission was refused, KQED and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed suit in federal district court, claiming that the denial of access violated the First Amendment. Shortly after the suit was filed, Houchins announced a change in prison policy and opened up the prison to regular public tours. News media were permitted early access to tours, although no cameras or tape recorders were allowed. Inmates were generally hidden from view and were not permitted to be interviewed. Additionally, only limited areas of the prison were included on the tour. The district court preliminarily enjoined Houchins from excluding KQED personnel and other news media representatives from all parts of the jail, as well as from preventing their use of photographic and sound equipment, and conduction of interviews. The court of appeals affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

Concurrence (Stewart, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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