New York Times v. United States: “A landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the First Amendment. The ruling made it possible for the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers to publish the then-classified Pentagon Papers without risk of government censorship or punishment. President Richard Nixon had claimed executive authority to force the Times to suspend publication of classified information in its possession. The question before the court was whether the constitutional freedom of the press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, was subordinate to a claimed need of the executive branch of government to maintain the secrecy of information. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did protect the right of the New York Times to print the materials.”
Bowers v. Hardwick: A United States Supreme Court decision, that upheld, in a 5–4 ruling, the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law criminalizing oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals. While this ruling was later overturned in 2oo3, I wrote for the majority for the Supreme Court, stating that that the Constitution did not confer “a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy.”
“In August 1982, an Atlanta police officer issued Michael Hardwick a citation for public drinking after witnessing Hardwick throw a beer bottle into the brush along Monroe Ave after observing him violating the city’s ordinance that prohibits drinking in public. When Hardwick did not appear in court, the court issued an arrest warrant for Hardwick. A few days later, officers went to Hardwick’s apartment to serve the warrant. Hardwick’s roommate was sleeping on the couch in the living room. The roommate invited officers in and directed them down the hall to Hardwick’s room. The door was open and the officers observed Hardwick and a companion, were engaged in mutual, consensual oral sex.
Hardwick became hostile and threatened to have officers fired for entering his home. Both men were placed under arrest for sodomy, which was defined in Georgia law to include both oral sex and anal sex between members of the same or opposite sex. The local district attorney elected not to present the charge to the grand jury, which would have been a prerequisite to any trial or punishment for the offense. Hardwick then sued Michael Bowers, the attorney general of Georgia, in federal court for a declaration that the state’s sodomy law was invalid. He charged that as an active homosexual, he was liable to eventually be prosecuted for his activities.
The legality of the officer’s entry into Hardwick’s home was never in question. Only the constitutionality of the sodomy statute was challenged.”
Furman v. Georgia: While my decisions have been characteristically conservative, I took more of a middle course on the issue of the death penalty: I was one of five justices who voted in Furman v. Georgia (1972) “to strike down several state capital punishment statutes, voicing concern over the arbitrary nature in which the death penalty was administered. The Furman decision ended capital punishment in the U.S. until 1977…”.
“Furman v. Georgia, the resident awoke in the middle of the night to find William Henry Furman committing robbery in his house. At trial, in an unsworn statement allowed under Georgia criminal procedure, Furman said that while trying to escape, he tripped and the weapon he was carrying fired accidentally, killing the victim. This contradicted his prior statement to police that he had turned and blindly fired a shot while fleeing. In either event, because the shooting occurred during the commission of a felony, Furman would have been guilty of murder and eligible for the death penalty under then-extant state law, according to the felony murder rule. Furman was tried for murder and was found guilty based largely on his own statement. Although he was sentenced to death, the punishment was never carried out.”
“In a 5-4 decision, the Court’s one-paragraph per curiam opinion held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution. However, the majority could not agree as to a rationale and did not produce a controlling opinion. In fact, none of the five justices constituting the majority joined in the opinion of any other.” I was concerned about how arbitrary it was for death sentences to be imposed under the former laws, especially in relation to the high racial bias towards indicting black males defendants.”
Current Case: NBC Universal Inc. v Broker’s Choice of America
As this case is concerned, the legality in question is regarding the question of journalistic privilege. While NBC was found guilty of defamation at the district level, this ruling is questionable. The information obtained and published by Dateline was edited, not doctored, following the current regulations around digital publishing. The tape was shortened to only play a small excerpt of Clark’s speech, leaving all of his words unchanged.
It would be an infringement on the Freedom of Speech and the Freedom of Press to fully restrict journalistic privilege, especially when journalists are reporting information exactly as it is collected from the source. In this case, Clark himself as well as his students are the exact source of the information about the sales techniques in the broker industry, but no evidence was planted, doctored or coerced. While Clark did not know the “customers” were undercover, the information they collected on their voice recorders were as stated in person, and did not provide false information.