OCTOBER TERM, 1993
Opinion in Chambers
on application for stay
No. A-669. Decided February 9, 1994
A South Dakota Circuit Court injunction prohibiting CBS from airing videotape footage taken at a South Dakota meat-packing company is stayed. The decision below conflicts with this Court's decisions on prior restraint in the First Amendment context. See, e. g., Organization for Better Austin v. Keefe, 402 U. S. 415, 419; Nebraska Press Assn. v. Stuart, 427 U. S. 539, 562. There is a reasonable probability that the case would warrant certiorari, and the broadcast's indefinite delay will cause irreparable harm to the news media that is intolerable under the First Amendment. The Amendment requires that the company remedy any harms it might suffer as a result of the broadcast through a damages proceeding rather than through suppression of protected speech.
Justice Blackmun, Circuit Justice.
CBS Inc., CBS News Division, a division of CBS Inc., and the television show 48 Hours (collectively CBS) apply for an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction entered by the Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial District of South Dakota prohibiting CBS from airing videotape footage taken at the factory of Federal Beef Processors, Inc. (Federal), a South Dakota meat-packing company. CBS seeks to televise the videotape this evening on a 48 Hours investigative news program and contends that the injunction constitutes an intolerable prior restraint on the media. Due to the time pressure involved in resolving this emergency application, my discussion is necessarily brief.
As part of an ongoing investigation into unsanitary practices in the meat industry, CBS obtained footage of Federal's meat-packing operations through the cooperation of a Federal employee, who voluntarily agreed to wear undercover
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