The Saturday Press Case 1931

J. M. Near, a man known as “anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-Black and anti-labor” published The Saturday Press, a scandal sheet teeming with racist views and false accusations against elected officials. Nonetheless, he managed to win an important victory for freedom of the press.

Barred by Minnesota law from circulating his paper, he took his case to the Supreme Court. The Justices in the 1931 Near v. Minnesota case reached a surprising 5-4 decision in his favor. The judgment rejected prior restraints (censorship before publication or expression) because they prevent public discussion and debate. This case was cited as precedent when the Nixon administration attempted to block the New York Times from printing the Pentagon Papers in 1971.