Legal Principle at Issue
Whether reporters can refuse to disclose sources to state grand juries.
The Supreme Court held that the reporter could be required to testify, affirming the Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
A reporter interviewed a number of individuals who produced and used drugs. The reporter refused to disclose the sources to a state grand jury that was investigating drug crimes.
Importance of Case
The First Amendment does not protect reporters from divulging their sources when called to testify before a grand jury. The Supreme Court held that the state’s interest in requiring individuals to answer the questions of a grand jury was a “paramount” interest that overcame judicial scrutiny. The Court stated, “Thus, we cannot seriously entertain the notion that the First Amendment protects a newsman’s agreement to conceal the criminal conduct of his source, or evidence thereof, on the theory that it is better to write about crime than to do something about it.”