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CourtSpeak: Branzburg v. Hayes Confidential Sources Case (1972)

First Amendment Read more from
Chapter The Burger Court (1969–86)

Justice Byron White (majority): “Until now the only testimonial privilege for unofficial witnesses that is rooted in the Federal Constitution is the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. We are asked to create another by interpreting the First Amendment to grant newsmen a testimonial privilege that other citizens do not enjoy. This we decline to do.”

Justice Potter Stewart (dissenting): “The Court thus invites state and federal authorities to undermine the historic independence of the press by attempting to annex the journalistic profession as an investigative arm of government. Not only will this decision impair performance of the press’ constitutionally protected functions, but it will, I am convinced, in the long run, harm rather than help the administration of justice.”

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