The First Amendment Encyclopedia

Presented by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies

Case Categories: Contempt of Court

Under English common law, courts had intended the power to punish individuals who showed contempt for their authority on the theory that such contempts were contempts of the king.

In the U.S. system of government, civil contempts of court are directed at individuals who refuse to do something that a court has ordered done for the benefit of another party; complying with the order usually settles the issue at hand. Criminal contempts, which are more likely to raise First Amendment issues, involve trespassing against the dignity of the court itself.

Following are cases involving the First Amendment and contempt of court.

Contact Us

Interested in First Amendment current events?