Regan v. Time, Inc.

LOCATION: Dodge Main Plant

DOCKET NO.: 82-729
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)

CITATION: 468 US 641 (1984)
ARGUED: Nov 09, 1983
DECIDED: Jul 03, 1984

Elliott Schulder - on behalf of the Appellants
Stuart M Gold - on behalf of the appellee
Stuart W. Gold - for appellee
Stuart M. Goll - on behalf of the Appellee

Facts of the case


Media for Regan v. Time, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1983 in Regan v. Time, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Donald T. Regan against Time Magazine.

Mr. Schulder, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Elliott Schulder:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, the basic question in this case is whether a statute that prohibits a publisher from printing an illustration of U.S. currency in color rather than in black and white, or in dimensions approximating the size of genuine currency, violates the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech or of the press.

There are two statutes at issue in this case, and they must be viewed in tandem.

The first one, 18 USC 474, Paragraph 6, prohibits the printing, photographing, or otherwise making or executing any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any obligation or security of the United States.

The term

"obligation or security of the United States. "

is also defined by statute in 18 USC 8, which we have reproduced on Page 5 of our brief, Footnote 2.

The second statute involved in this case is 18 USC 504.1.

That statute creates an exception to the ban in Section 474.

Section 504 permits the printing or publishing of illustrations of U. S. securities and obligations for philatelic, numismatic, educational, historical, or newsworthy purposes in articles, books, journals, newspapers, or albums, provided that three conditions are met.

First, the illustrations must be in black and white.

Second, the illustrations must be either over or undersized.

In other words, they must be at least one and a half times the size or less than three-quarters the size of actual currency.

And three, the materials, the negatives and the plates used in the making of these illustrations, must be destroyed after their final use.

This case began when appellee Time, Incorporated, brought suit for declaratory and injunctive relief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Time claimed that the statutory scheme amounted to government censorship of the press, and effected a massive infringement of the First Amendment rights of Time's editors and publishers.

The basis for the lawsuit was that over approximately a ten-year period Secret Service agents had brought to the attention of Time's management the fact that a number of illustrations of currency in Time's magazines violated the color and size requirements of the statutory scheme.

The district court entered summary judgment for Time and held Sections 474, Paragraph 6, and 504.1 unconstitutional on their face and as applied to Time.

The district court concluded that Section 474, Paragraph 6, was overbroad because it prohibits all reproductions of currency without regard to whether the reproduction has a capacity to deceive.

Turning to Section 504.1, the court focused on the purpose and forum provisions of the statute, and held that the statute is an impermissible regulation of the manner of depicting currency because, first of all, it is a content based statute that requires an inquiry into whether an illustration is undertaken or produced for one of the purposes specified in the statute, and two, the court concluded that there was no nexus between the statutory goal of preventing counterfeiting and the newsworthiness or educational value of an illustration or the type of forum in which the illustration appears.

The court also held Section 504 void for vagueness, because it concluded that it is difficult to determine what is a philatelic, numismatic, educational, historical, or newsworthy purpose, and what is a journal, newspaper, or album.

The government's basic submission in this case is that the statutory scheme at issue here serves what is a concededly compelling governmental interest in a manner that does not impose a substantial burden on First Amendment rights, and that leaves open ample alternative channels of communication.

First of all, the interest, government interest in this case is that of protecting against counterfeiting.

This is an interest that has a specific constitutional authority.

Congress enacted a counterfeiting statute, the first Congress enacted a counterfeiting statute in reliance upon the explicit authority of the Constitution to coin money and protect against counterfeiting.

Time recognizes in this case that it is essential to its facial challenge to attempt to portray the case as involving a substantial infringement of First Amendment interests, but Time has grossly overstated the impact of the statutory scheme.

Time's brief contains numerous examples of hyperbolic rhetoric.

For example, Time states that the law purports to control the editorial content of Time's magazines, and that the statute prohibits, prevents, or suppresses the use of the symbol of money.