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New York Times Co. v. United States (1971) Viewing Guide


How should the United States balance between freedom of the press and national security? In 1971, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision regarding if the government can prevent newspapers from publishing classified documents related to national security.


Access our Homework Help video on the landmark Supreme Court case of New York Times Co. v. United States and use our viewing guide below to follow along!


  1. Who commissioned the “Pentagon Papers”?
  2. Why did Ellsberg illegally photocopy the “Pentagon Papers”?
  3. What does “prior restraint” mean?
  4. Why did the U.S. Justice Department argue publication of the papers should be stopped?
  5. How did the Second Court of Appeals rule?
  6. How did the District of Columbia Court of Appeals rule?
  7. Describe the Supreme Court’s decision in your own words.

Access the answer key to this viewing guide here.

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