Washington Law Review


In Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment does not bar suits against newspapers for breaches of confidentiality promises. By following its cases holding that the press is subject to neutral laws, the Court ignored its precedent mandating that state laws inhibiting publication violate the First Amendment absent a compelling state interest. This Note explores both lines of cases and concludes that application of a state law that inhibits publication is unconstitutional if its utility in effecting a legitimate state interest is outweighed by the public's interest in receiving the information. Therefore, courts should read Cohen narrowly, and legislatures should act to shield the press from liability for breach of confidentiality.

First Page