New York Times Co V. United States Essay

New York Times Co V. United States Essay

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On 30 June, 1971 it was decided by the Supreme Court to rule against the President of the United States and the Executive government in the infamous case, New York Times Co. v United States. This six to three ruling by the Supreme Court justices was one of the few times in history when the court ruled against the government of the United States in favor of a major corporation. Because of this, to this day, New York Times Co v United States remains one of the most influential and controversial cases that the Supreme Court has ever seen. Although this case did not cause a shift in power from the federal to state governments, it did cause a flow away from the Executive Branch. The ruling in favor of the New York Times proved that the Executive government and specifically the President of the United States could not simply call for a retrieval of information just because they did not like what was becoming public. Along with this, because of the public being able to read the Pentagon Papers and understand the political-military activities that the government condoned during the Vietnam War, the two administrations, both during the war and in 1971, took a significant amount of criticism from the public.
Officially titled “United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967: A study prepared by the Department of Defense,” the Pentagon Papers are a history of the Department of Defense’s political-military activity and involvement in Vietnam throughout the war (2). Specifically, the 2.5 million word document revealed the public that the United States covertly enlarged the actual scale of the Vietnam War by bombing Cambodia and Laos and raiding North Vietnam with Marines. None of these military operations were reported to the media, which...


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...r of the Times and the Post, it showed the American public that even the Executive Branch and specifically the President of the United States could not simply retrieve information from an individual or corporation because they did not agree with the publication of it. Even the most powerful man in the free world could not call for an executive order and overrule an average citizen. Because Ellsberg was found not guilty under Espionage Act of 1917, the entire American public realized that their First Amendment rights truly were protected under the Constitution and no one could take that away from them, not even their own government. The ruling in favor of the Times and the Post cleared the path for other newspapers and websites to release the study, without the fear of having the government try to take control of companies and deny them their freedom of the press.

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