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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Branzburg v. Hayes, No. 70-85
United States v. Caldwell, No. 70-57
(Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Facts of the Case 

Pappas, a television newsman and photographer working out of a Providence RI office of a New Bedford MA television station, was called to New Bedford to report on civil disorders involving fires and other turmoil. Pappas intended to cover a Black Panther news conference. Pappas was admitted inside the Panther headquarters after agreeing that he would not disclose anything he saw or heard. Pappas stayed for three hours. He did not write a story based on his experience. Pappas was later summoned before a grand jury but he refused to answer questions about events that took place inside Panther headquarters.


Did the First Amendment's freedom of the press protect Pappas from appearing and testifying before the grand jury?


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 cases involved no government intervention to impose prior restraint, and no command to publish sources or to disclose them indiscriminately, there was no constitutional violation. Because 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. Pappas must appear and give testimony.

Cite this Page
IN RE PAPPAS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
IN RE PAPPAS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"IN RE PAPPAS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,