The Public Interest

What do you do when the Supreme Court is wrong?

Daniel P. Moynihan

Fall 1979

In its Spring Term of 1979, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Gannett v. DePasquale that the public does not have an independent constitutional right of access to a pretrial judicial proceeding. The ease had been brought by the Gannett newspapers after one of their reporters was barred from a pretrial hearing in a murder ease in upstate New York. Gannett argued that the guarantee of the Sixth Amendment to a “public trial” extended to the public at large, including, of course, the press. The Court held that this was not so. Mr. Justice Stewarts opinion for the majority of the Court declared: “The history upon which the petitioner and amici rely totally fails to demonstrate that the Framers of the Sixth Amendment intended to create a constitutional right in strangers to attend a pretrial proceeding...."

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