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New York Times v. United States (1971)

The Court ruled that the government violated the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of the press when it attempted to stop newspaper publication of classified documents about the Vietnam War. A claimed threat to national security was not justification for government censorship in advance (known as prior restraint).

Justice Hugo Back wrote, “Both the history and language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be left free to publish news, whatever the source, without censorship, injunctions, or prior restraints.” The Court also referred to its ruling in another landmark prior restraint case, Near v. Minnesota (1931).

This case touched on the civic values of responsibility, courage, and justice.