The Press and the Constitution, 1931-1947
by J. Edward Gerald
University of Minnesota Press, 1948
Paper: 978-0-8166-5964-7


The Press and the Constitution, 1931–1947 was first published in 1948. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Sixteen dramatic years—from the Minnesota gag law case in 1931 to the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. Sixteen years in which the American system of freedom developed new strength and conferred new benefits on the common man. In The Press and the Constitution J. Edward Gerald has told the story of these years as they have influenced the development of freedom of the press.

During this turbulent time American newspapers, in spite of their claims to protection under the First and Fourteenth amendments, have found themselves subjected to increasing legal restraints. The guarantee of freedom of the press affects the lives of a wide range of individuals—from publishers to pickets, from Big Business leaders to itinerant evangelists. To show this, Mr. Gerald includes in his discussion the anti-trust laws, newspaper taxes, wage and hour legislation, censorship, picketing, licensing, and the contempt power.

The book analyzes a series of cases decided by the United States Supreme Court from 1931 to 1947. Among the more celebrated are the Chicago Sun-Chicago Tribune antitrust case, the Esquire case, in which the powers of the Postmaster General were limited, and the Jehovah's Witnesses cases, in which the line between religion and commerce was defined.

The author concludes that American law definitely establishes—and carries out—the concept of the common welfare, even to the point of government intervention to increase freedom of the press for some while restricting it for others.

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