Potter Stewart Meets the Press

  • Keith J. Bybee


Although there are nearly fifty words in the First Amendment, a few Supreme Court justices have developed distinctive approaches to free expression by boiling the Amendment down to a single phrase.1 Justice Hugo Black, for example, thought the essential meaning of “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” could be found in just three words: “I read ‘no law … abridging’ to mean no law abridging.”2


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  1. 3.
    Potter Stewart, “Or of the Press”, Hastings Law Journal 26 (1974–1975): 631–637.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Vikram David Amar, “From Watergate to Ken Starr: Potter Stewart’s ‘Or of the Press’ a Quarter Century Later”, Hastings Law Journal50 (1999): 711–715; Margaret A. Blanchard, “The Institutional Press and Its First Amendment Privileges”, Supreme Court Review 1978 (1978): 225–296.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Keith J. Bybee, “Open Secret: Why the Supreme Court Has Nothing to Fear from the Internet”, Chicago-Kent Law Review 88 (2013): 309–323.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Leon Friedman, “Potter Stewart”, in The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions, eds. Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1997), 1546–1573Google Scholar
  5. Gayle Binion, “Potter Stewart”, in Biographical Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court: The Lives and Legal Philosophies of the Justices, ed. Melvin I. Urofsky (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2006), 486–492.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Paul Gewirtz, “On ‘I Know When I See It’”, Yale Law Journal 105 (1996): 1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 15.
    Except where indicated, this biographical section of the chapter draws upon Joel Jacobsen, “Remembered Justice: The Background, Early Career, and Judicial Appointments of Justice Potter Stewart”, Akron Law Review 35 (2002): 227–250.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Friedman, “Potter Stewart”, 1549; Rowena Scott Comegys, “Potter Stewart: An Analysis of His Views on the Press as Fourth Estate”, Chicago-Kent Law Review 59 (1982): 157–208.Google Scholar
  9. 38.
    See Eugene Volokh, “Freedom for the Press as an Industry, or for the Press as a Technology? From the Framing to Today”, University of Pennsylvania Law Review 160 (2012): 459–540.Google Scholar
  10. 46.
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  11. 47.
    Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong, The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979).Google Scholar
  12. 64.
    For a contrarian, more Stewart-friendly characterization of modern First Amendment law, see Sonja R. West, “The Stealth Press Clause”, Georgia Law Review 48 (2014): 729–756Google Scholar
  13. 67.
    Carol L. Boll, “Newhouse III Dedication: A Day to Remember”, Newhouse Network, Fall 2007, 3. Although the Supreme Court’s doctrine is not particularly favorable to the press, scholars have noted that the lower courts have in practice recognized some special accommodations for reporters. See, for example, David A. Anderson, “Freedom of the Press”, Texas Law Review 80 (2002): 429–530.Google Scholar
  14. 70.
    The description of the news media in this paragraph is drawn from Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers (New York: Basic Books, 1978).Google Scholar
  15. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect (New York: Crown Publishers, 2001).Google Scholar
  16. 72.
    Louis Filler, Crusaders for American Liberalism (Yellow Springs: Antioch Press, 1961)Google Scholar
  17. Thomas C. Leonard, The Power of the Press: The Birth of American Political Reporting (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  18. 79.
    Quoted in George Brock, Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism, and the Business of News in the Digital Age (London: Kogan Page, 2013), 56.Google Scholar
  19. 85.
    Paul Horwitz, FirstAmendment Institutions (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), 166–173.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Helen J. Knowles and Steven B. Lichtman 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith J. Bybee

There are no affiliations available

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