Gravel v. United States 408 U.S. 606 (1972)

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GRAVEL v. UNITED STATES 408 U.S. 606 (1972)

In the midst of efforts by the United States government to enjoin publication of the classified Pentagon Papers (see new york times co. v. united states), Senator Mike Gravel (Democrat, Alaska) held a "meeting" of his subcommittee, read extensively from the papers, and placed their entire text in the record. In this case a federal grand jury sought to question Gravel's aide concerning the senator's action and the subsequent private publication of the papers. The Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice byron r. white and over four dissents, confirmed that reading the papers in subcommittee was protected by the speech or debate clause. The clause also extended its protection to congressional aides acting as alter egos to members of Congress. But Gravel held that dissemination of the papers to a private publisher was not a legislative act, and thus was not protected by the speech or debate clause. Therefore, Gravel's aide could be questioned about the private publication of the papers.

Theodore Eisenberg