COX BROADCASTING CORPORATION v. COHN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
73-938
Appellee 
Cohn
Appellant 
Cox Broadcasting Corporation
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellee)
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Facts of the Case 

Martin Cohn was the father of a seventeen-year old girl who was raped and killed in Georgia. After obtaining information from the public record, a television station broadcast the name of Cohn's daughter in connection with the incident. This violated a Georgia privacy statute which prevented members of the media from publicizing the names or identities of rape victims.

Question 

Did the Georgia law violate the freedom of the press as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Cox Broadcasting Corporation, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

The Court held that the Georgia statute violated the Constitution. Justice White recognized the primacy of issues of privacy and press freedom, but he also identified compelling reasons why the press should not be restricted in this case. First, the news media is an important resource for citizens which allows them to scrutinize government proceedings. The commissions and adjudication of crimes are issues relevant to the public interest. Second, in the development of the privacy right, the Court has held that the interests of privacy "fade" in cases where controversial "information already appears on the public record." Restricting the media as the Georgia law did was a dangerous encroachment on press freedom, argued White, as it "would invite timidity and self-censorship."

Cite this Page
COX BROADCASTING CORPORATION v. COHN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 16 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1974/1974_73_938>.
COX BROADCASTING CORPORATION v. COHN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1974/1974_73_938 (last visited September 16, 2014).
"COX BROADCASTING CORPORATION v. COHN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 16, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1974/1974_73_938.