Branzburg vs. Hayes Essay

1965 Words8 Pages
The case of Branzburg vs. Hayes all began in 1969, when a Louisville Kentucky reporter by the name of Branzburg wrote a story, in the Courier-Journal, which described how two local residences made hashish marijuana. The article went into great detail and revealed many facts, including the amount of money the two made on selling the hashish to the public. The article also featured pictures of the two individual’s hands working with a plant like substance and was identified for readers as hashish in the caption under the picture. Branzburg was in agreement with the drug dealers and promised them he would not reveal their real names or identities in the article.

After the article was published, Branzburg was
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“… to gather news it is often necessary to agree either not to identify the source of information published or to publish only part of the facts revealed, or both; that if the reporter is nevertheless forced to reveal these confidences to a grand jury, the source so identified and other confidential sources of other reporters will be measurably deterred from furnishing publishable information, all to the detriment of the free flow of information, protected by the first amendment.” (3)

When the case finally made it to the Supreme Court, five justices voted in favor of Hayes, who was the district attorney. Four of the justices agreed that Branzburg had no right to confidentiality and should have given the court the identities they had requested. One of the Supreme Court justices handed down a dissenting opinion. The opinion handed down stated that Branzburg’s rights should have been protected unless the court could prove three things: First they had to prove probable cause that Branzburg had information to a crime that the Grand Jury was investigating. Secondly the court had to prove that there was no other alternative to obtaining the desired information on the two individuals identities except from Branzburg himself. Finally the court had to prove that there was strong desire for the government to

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