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New York Times Co. v. United States; United States v. Washington Post Co

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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Citation. 403 U.S. 713, 91 S. Ct. 2140, 29 L. Ed. 2d 822, 1971 U.S. 100.

Brief Fact Summary. The New York Times and the Washington Post published excerpts from a top secret Defense Department study of the Vietnam War. The study revealed in great detail United States military policy toward Indochina. The government filed suit seeking to enjoin the further publication of the materials.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Government bears the heavy burden of showing sufficient justification for the imposition of a prior restraint on speech.


Facts. The New York Times and the Washington Post published excerpts from a top secret Defense Department study of the Vietnam War. The study revealed in great detail United States policy toward Indochina including information about military operations and secret diplomatic negotiations. The government filed suit in the federal district courts and obtained an injunction in some instances, prohibiting the further publication of the materials, on the grounds that further publication would endanger the lives of United States troops and interfere with national security.

Issue. Was the restraining order barring the further publication of the Defense Department Study in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?

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