Prior Restraint

A prior restraint occurs when a government body or representative tries to stop publication before it occurs. In the United States, prior restraints are considered presumptively unconstitutional and the least acceptable intervention into the speech marketplace. This is because, unlike punishments that occur after expression has taken place, this form of censorship keeps speech from reaching the public in the first place.

This entry explores instances when prior restraints were requested and discusses whether they were permitted or not. The entry also examines how this process is complicated by the existence of websites like WikiLeaks. Finally, the entry explains what the prohibition against prior restraints means for U.S. journalists.

What Is a Prior Restraint?

The notion that government censorship of speech is an improper exercise of power dates ...

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