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ERIC Number: ED173839
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Aug
Pages: 22
Abstractor: N/A
KQED: A Case Study in Confusion.
Huttenstine, Marian L.; Hamner, Claire
The United States Supreme Court's ruling in the "Houchins v KQED" case exemplifies the confusion of that court concerning any consistent view of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, especially in terms of newsgathering and prior restraint. In this case, the Court reversed a lower court's decision that had held invalid a California sheriff's denial of media access to a prison. The Court's opinion, written by Chief Justice Warren Burger, was rooted in earlier decisions in which the Court had held that newspeople had no greater right of access to information than did the general public. This ruling is at odds with the traditional meaning and historical purpose of the First Amendment in terms of the role of the free press in a self-governing population. The public's right to know, recently upheld by the Court in several cases, was virtually ignored in the "Houchins v KQED" ruling. In actuality, the ruling was a 3-1-3 decision since Chief Justice Burger, joined by Justices Byron White and William Rehnquist, delivered the opinion; Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justices William Brennan and Byron Powell, wrote the dissent; and Justice Potter Stewart concurred in judgment but not in the rationale for reaching it. Such a ruling provides ground for supporting almost any interpretation of the First Amendment, symbolizing in so doing the confusion of the Court regarding this amendment. (Author/FL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (62nd, Houston, Texas, August 5-8, 1979)