The Law: Battling the Gag

Judges have been so wary of transgressing the First Amendment that only rarely have they tried to deal with the conflict between a free press and fair trial by ordering reporters not to print information. In recent years, however, a few court decisions suggested that the legal winds were shifting. Then, last November, Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun refused to void key parts of a Nebraska judge's order that barred the press from reporting the alleged confession of a suspect about to be tried for a grisly multiple murder. Blackmun's ruling prompted a mini-rash of at least a dozen similar...

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