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Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart

United States Supreme Court
467 U.S. 20 (1984)


Facts

Seattle Times Co. (Seattle Times) (defendant) published articles critical of the Aquarian Foundation (Aquarian), a religious group. Rhinehart (plaintiff), the spiritual leader of the Aquarian Foundation, brought suit against Seattle Times for defamation and invasion of privacy. The trial court allowed broad discovery, ordering Rhinehart, for purposes of the trial, to identify donors to Aquarian as well as how much they donate, and to produce a list of Aquarian’s members. However, the court also issued a protective order prohibiting the Seattle Times from publishing the information. Both sides appealed and the Supreme Court of Washington affirmed, finding that dissemination of the donor and member information would result in “annoyance, embarrassment and even oppression.” The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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