With the recent release of the full collection of the Pentagon Papers, several news reporters have created lists of important court cases decided by the Supreme Court. The usual ones are on the list, including Roe v. Wade, Marbury v. Madison, and McCulloch v. Maryland.
Well, I’ve decided to create my own list of important Supreme Court cases. Afterall, I minored in Journalism in college and I took a course on Communications Law back in the late 1970s. Those credentials obviously make me an absolute expert on the Supreme Court.
My credentials are important because the three court cases I would add to the list concern libel law and newspapers. The cases are: Near v. Minnesota, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, and New York Times Co. v. United States. All three of these cases served to help define and clarify the court positions on prior restraint and absence of malice. I don’t remember a great deal about the communications course I took, but I do remember these three cases and the impact they had on the fields of journalism and newspaper publishing. These three cases helped refine the philosophy of freedom of the press and also create a balance between professional, journalistic responsibility and open and free society.
I felt the need to simply throw in my “two bits” regarding the important court cases in history. New York Times v. United States came about as a result of the Pentagon Papers. In a time as stressful as the 1970s, a free press is something important to acknowledge and appreciate. And, so my list exists.