In discussing the landmark Supreme Court Case New York Times v. United States (1971), attorneys Floyd Abrams and Ted Olson explained what the Pentagon Papers were and why the government wanted to restrict its publication.
New York Times v. United States, better known as the “Pentagon Papers” case, was a decision expanding freedom of the press and limits on the government's power to interrupt that freedom. President Richard Nixon used his executive authority to prevent the New York Times from publishing top secret documents pertaining to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that the President’s attempt to prevent the publication was a violation of First Amendment protections for press freedom. This lesson has students explore the background of the New York Times v. United States, the arguments made during the case and its legacy.
As a class, view the following five videos and engage in class discussion to provide context for this case and its connection with the First Amendment.
Use the accompanying questions below or the notetaking chart in the Handout (Google Doc) as a guide.
VIDEO CLIP: The Pentagon Papers and New York Times v. United States (2:59)
VIDEO CLIP: The Events Leading to New York Times v. United States (5:39)
VIDEO CLIP: New York Times v. United States- Nixon's Decision to go to Court (5:12)
VIDEO CLIP: New York Times v. United States- Other Papers Publishing the Pentagon Papers (4:33)
VIDEO CLIP: The Legal Framework for New York Times v. United States (4:26)
STEP 2: View the videos below to learn about the oral arguments and the decision.
VIDEO CLIP: New York Times v. United States- Oral Arguments for the New York Times (3:29)
VIDEO CLIP: New York Times v. United States- Oral Arguments for the United States (2:32)
VIDEO CLIP: The Decision in New York Times v. United States (5:21)
VIDEO CLIP: The Legacy of New York Times v. United States (4:25)
Using the standard established in New York Times v. United States, come up with an example of a situation where the government would be able to use prior restraint to restrict a publication. Be prepared to explain why this situation would meet this standard.
New York Times v. United States Today- How might the events of the case look if it occurred today? How would the case be different with today's media climate and current technology? Would it be decided in the same way with our current Supreme Court?
In this lesson, students will learn about the causes, events, and impact of the Vietnam War within the United States and around the world.
This lesson explores the trends and current issues that are impacting journalism and the freedom of the press. Opinions and perspectives are offered from various government officials, journalists and academics about issues like media bias, financial models of journalism, fake news and the decline in local news reporting.