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Hutchinson v. Proxmire

Significance, The District Court's Ruling, The Supreme Court Steps In, Speech Or Debate Clause


Ronald Hutchinson


Senator William Proxmire

Petitioner's Claim

That negative statements against Hutchinson issued by Senator Proxmire in a press release, a newsletter, and a television interview are not protected under the Speech or Debate Clause.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Michael E. Cavanaugh

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Alan Raywid

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr.


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

26 June 1979


That the privileges of the Speech or Debate Clause do not extend to press releases, newsletters, and other communications not "essential to the deliberations of the Senate."

Related Cases

  • Long v. Ansell, 293 U.S. 76 (1934).
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).
  • United States v. Brewster, 408 U.S. 501 (1972).
  • Gravel v. United States, 408 U.S. 606 (1972).
  • Doe v. McMillan, 412 U.S. 306 (1973).


Biskupic, Joan and Witt, Elder. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1997.

Further Readings

  • Chandler, Ralph C. The Constitutional Law Dictionary. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, Inc., 1987.
  • Ducat, Craig R. and Harold W. Chase. Constitutional Interpretation. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1988.
  • Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980