August 5, 2013
Case Brief #2
1. Title and Citation
444 U.S. 507 (1980)
SNEPP v. UNITED STATES.
Decided February 19, 1980. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.
2. Facts of the Case
Based on his experiences as a CIA agent, Snepp published a book about certain CIA activities in South Vietnam. Snepp published the account without submitting it to the Agency for prepublication review. As an express condition of his employment with the CIA in 1968, however, Snepp had executed an agreement promising that he would "not . . . publish . . . any information or material relating to the Agency, its activities or intelligence activities generally, either during or after the term of his employment . . . without specific prior approval by the Agency." App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 78-1871, p. 59a. The promise was an integral part of Snepp's concurrent undertaking "not to disclose any classified information relating to the Agency without proper authorization." Id., at 58a. 1 Thus, Snepp had pledged not to divulge classified information and not to publish any information without prepublication clearance. The Government brought this suit to enforce Snepp's agreement. It sought a declaration that Snepp had breached the contract, an injunction requiring Snepp to submit future writings for prepublication review, and an order imposing a constructive trust for the Government's benefit on all profits that Snepp might earn from publishing the book in violation of his fiduciary obligations to the Agency.
Were Snepp's First Amendment rights violated?
4. Decisions (Holdings)
Upheld lower court decisions that a compelling government interest justifies publication safeguards in CIA employee contracts and waives their First Amendment rights to free speech.
5. Reasoning (Rationale) Ruling:
Mr. Justice STEVENS, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN and Mr. Justice MARSHALL join,...