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Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.

Significance, The Sacred Trust Between Reporter And Source, The Press Is Subject To The Same Laws As All Citizens


Dan Cohen


Cowles Media Co., DBA Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co., et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That the First Amendment does not prevent a plaintiff from recovering damages under a state law of general applicability when a newspaper breaches a promise of confidentiality to the plaintiff.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Elliot C. Rothenberg

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

John D. French

Justices for the Court

Anthony M. Kennedy, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, David H. Souter


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

24 June 1991


Reversed and remanded the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision that enforcement of a promise of confidentiality would violate the First Amendment rights of the publishers of the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune

Related Cases

  • New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).
  • Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972).
  • Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing, 443 U.S. 97 (1979).
  • Hustler Magazine Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994