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New York Times Co. v. United States [The Pentagon Papers Case]

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Bloomberg Law

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

Brief Fact Summary. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) held that the Government failed to meet the requisite burden of proof needed to justify a prior restraint of expression when attempting to enjoin the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing contents of a classified study.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Any system of prior restraints on expression comes to the Supreme Court bearing a heavy presumption against its invalidity. The Government “thus creates a heavy burden of showing justification for the enforcement of such a restraint.”


Facts. The United States sought to enjoin the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing contents of a confidential study about the Government’s decision making with regards to Vietnam policy. The District Court in the New York Times case and the District Court and the Court of Appeals in the Washington Post case held that the Government had not met the requisite burden justifying such a prior restraint.

Issue. Whether the United States met the heavy burden of showing justification for the enforcement of such a restraint on the New York Times and Washington Post to enjoin them from publishing contents of a classified study?

Content Type: Brief


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