The Law: Stopping Junk Mail

Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is material he finds offensive.

—Chief Justice Warren Burger

"Junk mail" last week confronted the Supreme Court with a familiar task: how to resolve a clash between competing constitutional values. Do publishers and other senders have a free-speech right to seek an audience by mailing unsolicited advertisements? Or do recipients have a prior right of privacy that allows them to bar the stuff that floods their mailboxes?

The issue was...

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