J385: Communication Law Home Page

Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252; 62 S. Ct. 190; 1941 U.S. LEXIS 1084; 86 L. Ed.
192; 159 A.L.R. 1346; 1 Media L. Rep. 1275 (1941)

SYLLABUS: [***1] 1. In determining whether punishment for an out-of-court
publication concerning a pending case, as a contempt, is consistent with
guaranties of the Federal Constitution, the problem in the case of a judgment
based upon a particularized statutory declaration of the policy of a State is
different from that where the judgment is based upon a common-law concept of a
general nature. P. 260.

2. The "clear and present danger" cases, decided by this Court, indicate that
the substantive evil likely to result must be extremely serious and the degree
of imminence extremely high before utterances can be punished. P. 263.

3. The "clear and present danger" cases do not mark the farthest
constitutional boundaries of protected expression; nor do they more than
recognize a minimum compulsion of the Bill of Rights. P. 263.

4. The freedom of speech and of the press secured by the First Amendment
against abridgment by the United States is similarly secured to all persons by
the Fourteenth against abridgment by a State. P. 263, n. 6.

5. The First Amendment's prohibition of "any law abridging the freedom of
speech or of the press" must be given the broadest scope that can be
countenanced [***2] in an orderly society. P. 265.

6. The First Amendment can not be taken as approving all practices in respect
to punishment for contempt which prevailed in England at the time of its
ratification. P. 265.

7. The "inherent tendency" or "reasonable tendency" of an out-of-court
publication to cause disrespect for the judiciary or interfere with the orderly
administration of justice in a pending case is not sufficient to establish
punishable contempt. P. 272.

8. Upon the facts of this case, held that convictions of a newspaper
publisher and editor for contempt, based on the publication of editorials
commenting upon cases pending in a state court, were violative of constitutional
rights of freedom of speech and of the press. P. 271.

9. The conviction of a labor leader for contempt of a state court, based upon
his publication in the press of a telegram which he had sent to the Secretary of
Labor, in which he criticized the decision of a judge in a case involving a
labor dispute and indicated that enforcement of the decree would result in a
strike, held violative of constitutional rights of freedom of speech and of the
press. P. 275.


School of Journalism and Communication