417 U.S. 817 (1974), 73-918, Pell v. Procunier

Docket Nº:73-918
Citation:417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2827, 41 L.Ed.2d 495
Party Name:Pell v. Procunier
Case Date:June 24, 1974
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 817

417 U.S. 817 (1974)

94 S.Ct. 2827, 41 L.Ed.2d 495

Eve PELL et al., Appellants,


Raymond K. PROCUNIER, Director, California Department of Corrections, et al.

Raymond K. PROCUNIER, Director, California Department of Corrections, et al., Appellants,


Booker T. HILLERY, Jr., et al.

Wiliam B. SAXBE, Attorney General of the United States, et al., Petitioners,



Nos. 73--918, 73--754, and 73--1265.

United States Supreme Court.

June 24, 1974

Argued April 16 and 17, 1974.

For opinions of the Court, see 94 S.Ct. 2800, 2811.

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[94 S.Ct. 2827] Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN and Mr. Justice MARSHALL join, dissenting.

These cases involve the constitutionality, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, of prison regulations limiting communication between state and [94 S.Ct. 2828] federal prisoners and the press. Nos. 73--754 and 73--918 are cross-appeals from the judgment of a three-judge District Court for the Northern District of California. 364 F.Supp. 196. Suit was brought in that court by four California state prisoners and three professional journalists challenging the constitutionality of California Department of Corrections Manual s 415.071 which imposes an absolute ban on media interviews with individually designated inmates.

The court upheld the prisoners' claim that this regulation is violative of their right of free speech, and, in No. 73--754, the Director of the California Department of Corrections appeals from the court's injunction against further enforcement of the regulation. As to the journalists' claim, the court noted: 'The media plaintiffs herein and amicus curiae argue that s 415.071 is violative of not only the prisoners' First Amendment rights, but also the press'. The court disagrees.' 364 F.Supp., at 199. In No. 73--918, the journalists appeal this rejection of their claim.

No. 73--1265 involves a media challenge to Federal Bureau of Prisons Policy Statement 1220.1A, 4nb)(6), which prohibits press interviews with any particular federal

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prisoner in any medium security or maximum security facility. The District Court held the total ban violative of the First Amendment's free press guarantee and enjoined its enforcement. 357 F.Supp. 770. The Court of Appeals affirmed sub nom. Washington Post Co. v. Kleindienst, 161 U.S.App.D.C. 75, 494 F.2d 994. As the majority notes, '(t)he policies of the Federal Bureau of Prisons regarding visitations to prison inmates do not differ significantly from the California policies' here under review.


In analyzing the prisoner challenge to California's absolute ban on media interviews with individual inmates, I start with the proposition that 'foremost among the Bill of Rights of prisoners in this country, whether under state or federal detenton, is the First Amendment. Prisoners are still 'persons' entitled to all constitutional rights unless their liberty has been constitutionally curtailed by procedures that satisfy all the requirement of due process. . . . Free speech and press within the meaning of the First Amendment are, in my judgment, among the pre-eminent privileges and immunities of all citizens.' Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 428--429, 94 S.Ct. 1800, 1818, 40 L.Ed.2d 224 (Douglas, J., concurring in judgment). With that premise, I cannot agree with the Court that California's grossly overbroad restrictions on prisoner speech are constitutionally...

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