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Case Basics
Docket No. 
MN Comm. of Rev.
Minn. Star & Trib. Co.
(Argued the cause for the appellant)
(Argued the cause for the appellee)
Facts of the Case 

From 1967 to 1971, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company, a publisher of a morning and evening newspaper in Minneapolis, was exempt from a state sales and use tax provided periodic publications. In 1971, the Minnesota legislature imposed a "use tax" on the cost of paper and ink products consumed in publishing. In 1974, the legislature exempted the first $100,000 worth of ink and paper consumed a year. After the enactment of this exemption, the Star Tribune found itself paying roughly two-thirds of the total revenue raised by the tax.


Did the taxing scheme enacted by the Minnesota legislature violate the freedom of press guaranteed by the First Amendment?

Decision: 8 votes for Minn. Star & Trib. Co., 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

The Court held that while the First Amendment did not prohibit all regulation of the press, Minnesota had "created a special tax that applie[d] only to certain publications protected by the First Amendment." Noting that there was "substantial evidence that differential taxation of the press would have troubled the Framers of the First Amendment," the Court held that when states single out the press "the threat of burdensome taxes becomes acute." The Court concluded that "recognizing a power in the State not only to single out the press but also to tailor the tax so that it singles out a few members of the press presents such a potential for abuse that no interest suggested by Minnesota can justify the scheme."

Cite this Page
MINN. STAR & TRIB. CO. v. MN COMM. OF REV.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1839>.
MINN. STAR & TRIB. CO. v. MN COMM. OF REV., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1839 (last visited August 26, 2015).
"MINN. STAR & TRIB. CO. v. MN COMM. OF REV.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1839.