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Branzburg v. Hayes

Significance, Dissent Proposes Qualified Protection For Confidential News Sources, Pro And Con: Naming Media Sources


Paul M. Branzburg


John P. Hayes, Judge

Appellant's Claim

That the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press provides the press with a privilege protecting the confidentiality of media sources.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Edgar A. Zingman

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Edwin A. Schroering, Jr.

Justices for the Court

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

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Potter Stewart


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

29 June 1972


The Supreme Court ruled against a special First Amendment privilege that would allow the press to refuse to answer grand jury questions concerning news sources.

Related Cases

  • Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S. 663 (1991).


Cornell. http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/

West's Encyclopedia of American Law. Volume 2. Minneapolis, MN: West Publishing, 1998.

Further Readings

  • The First Amendment Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Meaning of Freedom of Speech and Press. New York: Longman, 1982.
  • Fuentes, Annette. "The Subpoena Club: Survey of News Organizations by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press." Columbia Journalism Review. March-May, 1992, pp. 8-9.
  • Scarce, Rik. "Confidential Sources." The Progressive. October, 1993, p. 38.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972