BRANZBURG v. HAYES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
70-85
Petitioner 
Branzburg
Respondent 
Hayes
Consolidation 
In re Pappas, No. 70-94
United States v. Caldwell, No. 70-57
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
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Facts of the Case 

After observing and interviewing a number of people synthesizing and using drugs in a two-county area in Kentucky, Branzburg, a reporter, wrote a story which appeared in a Louisville newspaper. On two occasions he was called to testify before state grand juries which were investigating drug crimes. Branzburg refused to testify and potentially disclose the identities of his confidential sources. Similarly, in the companion cases of In re Pappas and United States v. Caldwell, two different reporters, each covering activity within the Black Panther organization, were called to testify before grand juries and reveal trusted information. Like Branzburg, both Pappas and Caldwell refused to appear before their respective grand juries.

Question 

Is the requirement that news reporters appear and testify before state or federal grand juries an abridgement of the freedoms of speech and press as guaranteed by the First Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Hayes, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: First amendment

No. The Court found that requiring reporters to disclose confidential information to grand juries served a "compelling" and "paramount" state interest and did not violate the First Amendment. Justice White argued that since the case involved no government intervention to impose prior restraint, and no command to publish sources or to disclose them indiscriminately, there was no Constitutional violation. The fact that reporters receive information from sources in confidence does not privilege them to withhold that information during a government investigation; the average citizen is often forced to disclose information received in confidence when summoned to testify in court.

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BRANZBURG v. HAYES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 29 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_85/>.
BRANZBURG v. HAYES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_85/ (last visited July 29, 2014).
"BRANZBURG v. HAYES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 29, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_85/.