ERIC Number: ED173824
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Measuring Absolutists: Justices Hugo L. Black and William O. Douglas and Their Differences of Opinion on Freedom of the Press.
Schwartz, Thomas A.
The absolutist approach to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution--argued for many years by Supreme Court Justices Hugo L. Black and William O. Douglas--is regarded as the most libertarian interpretation by most mass communication law students. However, the two justices found agreement difficult in some First Amendment cases, especially in the last years that Black served on the Supreme Court. This was because Black's literal approach would not allow him to afford "speech plus" First Amendment protection, while Douglas believed picketing and other "symbolic speech" acts could be protected by the First Amendment. Black also disagreed with Douglas's opinion that certain rights were protected as penumbras of the First Amendment. Yet the two justices were virtually in complete agreement on issues dealing specifically with freedom of the press; from 1946 to 1974, when they both were justices, they had a higher index of agreement on the 72 press cases than on either the 1,010 civil liberties cases or all l,709 nonunanimous cases that came before the Supreme Court. What can be concluded from analyses of the justices' decisions and opinions is that almost all disagreement between them can be explained in terms of their respective attitudes toward the role of the Supreme Court in the political system of the United States. (Author/RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Black (Hugo); Douglas (William O)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (62nd, Houston, Texas, August 5-8, 1979)