A Message from the Dean
Confidential Sources on Trial
Shelter From the Storm
Harrison Report: Post-World War II Bombshell
A Case of Political Descent
Clinic Hits Thirty
The Brief
The Board of Overseers
Faculty News & Publications
Philanthropy
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
Case Closed
 
Confidential Sources on Trial
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Like other critics, Baker also thinks the former editor is mistaken in equating his decision with presidential actions. “Truman was right to submit, but there is a big difference between a citizen's civil disobedience and a President's,” Professor Baker stated. “Our government is lawless if the President refuses, but that is not so when an individual, knowing that he or she is disobeying a court order, refuses in an act of knowing civil disobedience.” Still, Professor Baker allows that, although “the first impulse of an editor should always be to support the journalist, just as the expected behavior of a journalist is be honest with the editor, there are times when exceptions are proper in both cases. I am not prepared to say whether this was such a time.”

Kevin T. Baine L'74, a partner at the Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly and an expert in First Amendment and media law, defends Pearlstine. “I don't think anyone can fault him for turning over the notes after the corporation had been held in contempt and all appeals had been exhausted,” stated Baine, who represents The Washington Post . “What was his option?” he asks. “To give in after incurring daily fines for some period of time? Never to give in and let the fines build up indefinitely? And, practicalities aside, there is a limit to which one can take the idea that civil disobedience is an appropriate corporate policy.”
 
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