ERIC Number: ED253895
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Governmental Restraints on the Exchange of Scientific Communications.
Fielding, Ian; Brownlee, Don
Recently, there has been a definite shift away from United States government support for the unrestricted exchange of new, unclassified scientific and technical information at professional meetings. This has been substantiated by numerous specific examples of censorship by branches of the government. Scientists in the target professional associations frequently work on basic research and advanced technical systems for the Department of Defense. Since in no case have the scientists sought judicial relief from what is undoubtedly governmental prior restraint, any projection as to how this conflict between the First Amendment and national security interests would be resolved must rely on previous case law. The Supreme Court has never enunciated a clear description of what constitutes justification for prior restraint; nor has it deferred judgments on the validity of prior restraints to a case-by-case evaluation. Some minimal standards have been identified to guide the judiciary in application of restraints. First, the restraint must be specifically authorized by legislation; and second, the government must prove that the communication "inevitably, directly, and immediately" causes serious damage to the government or the population. There is serious doubt as to whether the government could meet this test of inevitable harm, but given its repeated efforts to prohibit presentations at scientific symposia and the minimal resistance the government has encountered, this trend is likely to continue. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: First Amendment; Information Exchange; Prior Restraint; Supreme Court
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Fresno, CA, February 16-19, 1985).