Law: Censor Slip

Embarrassing prior restraint

The law is unambiguous. As an unbroken line, of U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1931 makes clear, the constitutional ban on prior restraint of publication is all but absolute. An exception might be made if there was a grave and immediate threat to the national security, but no such case has ever arisen.

Constitutional scholars and civil libertarians therefore reacted with outrage last week when it was disclosed that the U.S. had gone to court to limit the publication of a federal district judge's opinion that officials claimed "slandered" three Government...

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