Opinions & Commentaries

The principal question here is whether, in the District of Columbia, the Constitution of the United States precludes a street railway company from receiving and amplifying radio programs through loudspeakers in its passenger vehicles under the circumstances of this case. *454 The service and equipment of the company are subject to regulation by the Public Utilities Commission of the District of Columbia. The Commission, after an investigation and public hearings disclosing substantial grounds for doing so, has concluded that the radio service is not inconsistent with public convenience, comfort and safety and "tends to improve the conditions under which the public ride." The Commission, accordingly, has permitted the radio service to continue despite vigorous protests from some passengers that to do so violates their constitutional rights. For the reasons hereafter stated, we hold that neither the operation of the service nor the action of the Commission permitting its operation is precluded by the Constitution.

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The question in this case is whether appellant, publisher of Life Magazine, was denied constitutional protections of speech and press by the application by the New York courts of §§ 50-51 of the New York Civil Rights Law[1] to award appellee damages on allegations *377 that Life falsely reported that a new play portrayed an experience suffered by appellee and his family.

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Petitioners, a mother and her son, brought a diversity action against respondents, a newspaper publisher and a reporter, for invasion of privacy based on a feature story in the newspaper discussing the impact upon petitioners' family of the death of the father in a bridge collapse. The story concededly contained a number of inaccuracies and false statements about the family. The District Judge struck the claims for punitive damages for lack of evidence of malice "within the legal definition of that term," but allowed the case to go to the jury on the "false light" theory of invasion of privacy, after instructing the jurors that liability could be imposed only if they found that the false statements were published with knowledge of their falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth, and the jury returned a verdict for compensatory damages.

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The issue before us in this case is whether, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, a State may extend a cause of action for damages for invasion of privacy caused by the publication of the name of a deceased rape victim which was publicly revealed in connection with the prosecution of the crime.

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430 U.S. 308 (1977) OKLAHOMA PUBLISHING CO. v. DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR OKLAHOMA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, ET AL.   No. 76-867. Supreme Court of United States.   Decided March 7, 1977. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OKLAHOMA.PER CURIAM. A pretrial order entered by the District Court of Oklahoma County enjoined members of the news media from “publishing, broadcasting, or disseminating, in any manner, the name or picture of [a] minor child” in connection with a juvenile proceeding involving that child then pending in that court. On application for prohibition and mandamus challenging the order […]

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Title I of Pub. L. 93-526, 88 Stat. 1695, note following 44 U. S. C. § 2107 (1970 ed., Supp. V), the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (hereafter Act), directs the Administrator of General Services, an official of the Executive Branch, to take custody of the Presidential papers and tape recordings of appellant, former President Richard M. Nixon, and promulgate regulations that (1) provide for the orderly processing and screening by Executive Branch archivists of such materials for the purpose of returning to appellant those that are personal and private in nature, and (2) determine the terms and conditions upon which public access may eventually be had to those materials that are retained. The question for decision is whether Title I is unconstitutional on its face as a violation of (1) the separation of powers; (2) Presidential privilege doctrines; (3) appellant's privacy interests; (4) appellant's First Amendment associational rights; or (5) the Bill of Attainder Clause.

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Petitioner, Hugo Zacchini, is an entertainer. He performs a "human cannonball" act in which he is shot from a cannon into a net some 200 feet away. Each performance occupies some 15 seconds. In August and September 1972, petitioner was engaged to perform his act on a regular basis at the Geauga County Fair in Burton, Ohio. He performed in a fenced area, surrounded by grandstands, at the fair grounds. Members of the public attending the fair were not charged a separate admission fee to observe his act.

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This case presents the question whether the District Court for the District of Columbia should release to respondents certain tapes admitted into evidence at the trial of petitioner's former advisers. Respondents wish to copy the tapes for broadcasting and sale to the public. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the District Court's refusal to permit immediate copying of the tapes was an abuse of discretion. United States v. Mitchell, 179 U. S. App. D. C. 293, 551 F. 2d 1252 (1976). We granted certiorari, 430 U. S. 944 (1977), and for the reasons that follow, we reverse.

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We granted certiorari to consider whether a West Virginia statute violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution by making it a crime for a newspaper to publish, without the written approval of the juvenile court, the name of any youth charged as a juvenile offender.

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Florida Stat. § 794.03 (1987) makes it unlawful to "print, publish, or broadcast . . . in any instrument of mass communication" the name of the victim of a sexual offense.[1] Pursuant to this statute, appellant The Florida Star was found civilly liable for publishing the name of a rape victim which it had obtained from a publicly released police report. The issue presented here is whether this result comports with the First Amendment. We hold that it does not.

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In May 1993, Gloria Bartnicki, chief negotiator for the Wyoming Valley West School District Teachers' Union, had a cellular phone conversation with Anthony Kane, a teacher at Wyoming Valley West High School about the contentious negotiations over the teachers' new contract. An unknown person intercepted the contents of the cellular phone conversation and gave them to defendant Jack Yocum, president of the Wyoming Valley West Taxpayers' Association an organization formed for the sole purpose of opposing the teachers' new contract. Yocum then gave the tape to a Fred Williams, a local radio show host, who goes by the name of Frederick Vopper. Vopper played portions of the cell phone conversation over the air. Bartnicki and Kane sued Vopper, two radio stations and Yocum in federal district court in 1994 under the Federal Wiretapping Act and a similar state law. In 1995, the federal district court denied all parties' motions for summary judgment, finding there were genuine issues of material fact. The district then later certified two questions of law to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The certified questions asked whether imposing liability on the defendants, none of whom illegally intercepted the contents of the phone call, violates the First Amendment. In 1999, a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the federal law imposing liability on individuals who merely disclose or use material that was illegally intercepted violates the First Amendment. The plaintiffs and the United States, which had intervened to defend the constitutionality of its law, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A court considering a challenge to an election law must balance the magnitude of the injury to the challenger's First Amendment rights against the offered justifications for the law, taking into account the extent to which the justifications make it necessary to burden the challenger's rights. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983). When the challenger's rights are subjected to severe restrictions, the regulation must be narrowly drawn to advance a compelling state interest. Illinois Elections Bd. v. Socialist Workers Party, 440 U.S. 173 (1979). When the restrictions are only reasonable and nondiscriminatory, however, the state's important regulatory interests are generally sufficient to justify the restrictions. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983). "State action to punish the publication of truthful information seldom can satisfy constitutional concerns."Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing Co., 443 U.S. 97 (1979). Privacy of communication is an important interest.Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises,471 U.S. 539 (1985). The right of privacy does not generally prohibit the publication of truthful information of material that is of public interest. Samuel Warren & Louis Brandeis, The Right to Privacy, 4 Harv. L. Rev. 193, (1890).

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