The Fuller Court (1888–1910)

Criminal Justice

CourtSpeak: Patterson v. Colorado Unfavorable Cartoon Case (1907)

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (majority): “A publication likely to reach the eyes of a jury, declaring a witness in a pending cause a perjurer, would be none the less a contempt that it was true. It would tend to obstruct the administration of justice, because even a correct conclusion is not to be reached or helped in that way, if our system of trials is to be maintained. The theory of our system is that the conclusions to be reached in a case will be induced only by evidence and argument in open court, and not by any outside influence, whether of private talk or public print.”

Justice John Marshall Harlan (dissenting): “I go further and hold that the privileges of free speech and of a free press, belonging to every citizen of the United States, constitute essential parts of every man’s liberty, and are protected against violation by that clause of the 14th Amendment forbidding a state to deprive any person of his liberty without due process of law. It is, I think, impossible to conceive of liberty, as secured by the Constitution against hostile action, whether by the nation or by the states, which does not embrace the right to enjoy free speech and the right to have a free press.”


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