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The Fourth Estate and the Constitution

Freedom of the Press in America

Lucas A. Powe (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 372 pages
ISBN: 9780520080386
October 1992
$34.95, £28.00
In 1964 the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in New York Times v. Sullivan guaranteeing constitutional protection for caustic criticism of public officials, thus forging the modern law of freedom of the press. Since then, the Court has decided case after case affecting the rights and restrictions of the press, yet little has ben written about these developments as they pertain to the Fourth Estate. Lucas Powe's essential book now fills this gap. Lucas A. Powe, Jr., a legal scholar specializing in media and the law, goes back to the framing of the First Amendment and chronicles the two main traditions of interpreting freedom of the press to illuminate the issues that today ignite controversy: 
  • How can a balance be achieved among reputation, uninhibited discussion, and media power?
  • Under what circumstance can the government seek to protect national security by enjoining the press rather than attempting the difficult task of convincing a jury that publication was a criminal offense?
  • What rights can the press properly claim to protect confidential sources or to demand access to information otherwise barred to the public?
  • And, as the media grow larger and larger, can the government attempt to limit their power by limiting their size?
Writing for the concerned layperson and student of both journalism and jurisprudence, Powe synthesizes law, history, and theory to explain and justify full protection of the editorial choices of the press. The Fourth Estate and the Constitution not only captures the sweep of history of Supreme Court decisions on the press, but also provides a timely restatement of the traditional view of freedom of the press at a time when liberty is increasingly called into question.
Lucas A. Powe, Jr., holds the Anne Green Regents Chair at The University of Texas, where he teaches at the School of Law and the Department of Government.
"Powe retrieves the colorful story of press freedom from judicial doctrine, academic theory, and journalistic self-righteousness and restored its essential political context. His characteristically outspoken account is in the best tradition of legal realism."--Hans A. Linde, Professor of Law, University of Oregon "Lucas Powe's The Fourth Estate and the Constitution is well written, povocative, and comprehensive--a superb introduction to the field. The book's lively combination of doctrinal summaries, policy analyses, and historical detail will be instructive for the beginner and scholar alike."--C. Edwin Baker, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania "Path-breaking, a work of first-rate importance."--Dwight L. Teeter, Professor of Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

American Bar Association Certificate of Merit Award, American Bar Association

Scribes Book Award, American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects

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