ACLU History: The Pentagon Papers: Defending Freedom of the Press During Times of War

Document Date: September 1, 2010

The issue of a free press captured national attention once again during the Vietnam Era, when the Nixon Administration notoriously obtained a court order barring The New York Times and the Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers – hundreds of pages of secret government documents detailing American involvement in the Vietnam War. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court in New York Times v. United States, where the ACLU filed an amicus brief opposing the injunction on free speech grounds. In a ruling that is considered a landmark for freedom of the press, the Court ordered publication of the papers by the Times and others to resume in June 1971.

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»New York Times Company v. United States of America (
»The Battle for the Pentagon Papers (
»ACLU amicus Brief – Nixon v. USA

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