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In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg was an economist employed by the RAND (Research and Development) Corporation, which provided the United States government with analysis in various areas, including defense. As part of his work for RAND, Ellsberg had access to classified United States government documents about the conduct of the Vietnam War. The documents showed that the U.S. government had consistently lied to the American people about the possibility of winning the war (the documents showed that winning was highly unlikely) and about the number of casualties that would be the result of continuing America’s involvement in the war (the casualties would be far higher than the government had publicly stated).
Ellsberg photocopied the documents and provided copies to The New York Times newspaper, with the understanding that they would be kept confidential. However, the Times began to publish the documents—which came to be called “the Pentagon Papers.”
The Times was taken to court by the government to force it to stop publication of the papers. Ultimately, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of New York Times Co. v. United States in favor of the Times. This decision was a landmark First Amendment ruling. Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion, and Justices Brennan, Stewart, White, and Marshall wrote concurring opinions. Chief Justice Burger and Justices Harlan and Blackmun wrote dissenting opinions.
This famous Supreme Court case is based on a conflict between the rights of the Executive branch of the government (to classify its documents on the basis of what it considered “national security”) and the right of the press to inform the citizens of the country of vital information about the conduct of their government. The Court came down on the side of the citizen’s right to know.
Compose a brief essay of at least 400 words but no more than 600 words (not including your references list) on the following topic, referring to and critiquing relevant ideas from at least three of the Week 3 readings as you develop your thoughts: Based on your reading of the Constitution’s Articles II and III and the First Amendment, and considering carefully the originalist and living document theories of judicial review, make an argument that the decision of the Supreme Court in New York Times Co. v. United States was either correct or incorrect.
Note: You may also briefly bring in explanatory information that you have found in your research on the case or on the opinions of the justices—but do not use Wikipedia as a source, as it is not generally considered sufficiently credible for academic writing. Be sure to include in-text citations for such information and also to include these sources in your references list. Remember, this background is not the focus of the assignment and so, should not dominate in your essay. We are not expecting a major research essay, but rather, a thought piece that uses ideas from the assigned readings and, potentially, other resources.
Below are some of my required readings to go along with writing essay.
The Constitution: Its Champions and Its Critics:
James Madison: The Constitution (1787; 1789)
Benjamin Franklin: “Speech in the Convention: At the Conclusion of Its Deliberations” (Sept. 17, 1787)
Thomas Jefferson: Letter to James Madison, Dec. 20, 1787
The Federalist Papers:
James Madison: Federalist No. 10
James Madison: Federalist No. 47
James Madison: Federalist No. 51
Originalism Versus the Living Constitution Theory of Judicial Review:
Whittington: “How to Read the Constitution” (2006)
In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg was an economist employed by the RAND (Research and Development) Corporation, which provided the United States government with analysis in various areas, including defense. As part of his work for RAND, Ellsberg had access to classified United States government documents about the conduct of the Vietnam War. The documents showed that the U.S.