GLOBE NEWSPAPER CO. v. SUPERIOR COURT

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
81-611
Appellee 
Superior Court
Appellant 
Globe Newspaper Co.
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellant)
(Argued the cause for the appellee)
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Term:
Facts of the Case 

A Massachusetts law required trial courts to exclude members of the press and public from certain cases involving sexual offenses and testimony of victims less than eighteen years old. In a trial involving a male who was accused of raping three minors, the court, acting in reference to the Massachusetts statute, conducted a closed trial.

Question 

Did the Massachusetts law violate the First Amendment's freedom of press guarantee as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Globe Newspaper Co., 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

The Court held that the Massachusetts law violated the First Amendment. Recalling the Court's holding in Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia (1980), Justice Brennan reviewed important historical and judicial reasons why access to criminal trials is "properly afforded" First Amendment protection. When the court denies access, argued Brennan, the only justification is to serve a compelling state interest. The Court found no such interest here. First, protecting the psychological well-being of a minor, arguably a compelling interest, conceded Brennan, "does not justify a mandatory closure rule" as circumstances can vary greatly in this type of case. Second, there was no convincing empirical or logical evidence to prove that victims would be more likely to come forward if the press and public were excluded from trials of this nature.

Cite this Page
GLOBE NEWSPAPER CO. v. SUPERIOR COURT. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_81_611>.
GLOBE NEWSPAPER CO. v. SUPERIOR COURT, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_81_611 (last visited October 23, 2014).
"GLOBE NEWSPAPER CO. v. SUPERIOR COURT," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_81_611.