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Snepp v. United States

Significance, Snepp Writes Decent Interval, Impact, Further Readings


Frank W. Snepp III


U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Appellant's Claim

That CIA requirements for agency prepublication review of writings about the agency by employees and former employees constituted unconstitutional prior restraint on freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

Alan M. Dershowitz, Bruce J. Ennis, Joel M. Gora, Mark H. Lynch, Jack D. Novik, John H. F. Shattuck, John Cary Sims, Geoffrey J. Vitt

Chief Lawyers for Appellee

David J. Anderson, Barbara Allen Babcock, William B. Cummings, Brook Hedge, Thomas S. Martin, Elizabeth Gere Whitaker, Glenn V. Whitaker, George P. Williams

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White (unsigned)

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

19 February 1980


Upheld lower court decisions that a compelling government interest justifies publication safeguards in CIA employee contracts and waives their First Amendment rights to free speech.

Related Cases

  • Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931).
  • New York Times Company v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971).
  • United States v. The Progressive, 467 F.Supp. 990 (W.D. Wis. 1979).
  • Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280 (1981).

Additional topics

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