Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.

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Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.
Court U.S. Supreme Court
Citation 501 U.S. 663
111 S. Ct. 2513 (1991)
Date decided June 24, 1991
Appealed from Minnesota Supreme Court
Distinguished Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell
Cited Orr v. Orr
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
Related Cohen v. Cowles Media Co. (Minn.)
Case Opinions
majority written by White
joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy
dissent written by Blackmun
joined by Marshall, Souter
dissent written by Souter
joined by Marshall, Blackmun, O'Connor

Holding:

Reversed and remanded.


Rules:

Generally applicable laws do not offend the First Amendment simply because their enforcement against the press has incidental effects on its ability to gather and report the news.The information published must be lawfully acquired. The First Amendment does not confer upon the press a constitutional right to disregard promises that would otherwise be enforced under state law.


Issue:

Does the First Amendment bar a plaintiff from recovering damages, under state promissory estoppel law, for a newspaper's breach of a promise of confidentiality?


Dissent

The publication issued was true, and truthful speech should never be sanctioned according to the First Amendment.