COM 361 Illinois State University Virginia v Black 538 US Case Analytical Review

I’m stuck on a Law question and need an explanation.

Throughout this course, you have been introduced to some foundational legal and ethical principles in media law such as: free speech and freedom of the press, defamation and libel, copyright and trademark law, commercial speech regulation, and obscenity law. These concepts are considered anew each time a media law case is litigated. As such, these concepts and doctrines slowly change over time. This short writing assignment gives you an opportunity to analyze one particular case and apply the knowledge you have gained in the course to understanding a case’s importance, influence, and legacy.

To complete this assignment, first read Orin Kerr’s “How to Read a Legal Opinion.” Next choose a case from the list below (or one that you find on your own as long as it relates to the topics we’ve discussed in class), and write the following:

1) A short summary of the case and its decision,

2) An analysis of how the case fits into or challenges some of the basic concepts we have discussed in class, and

3) What this case might mean or has meant for the future of media law. To put it more simply, why is this case important? You may also reflect on whether you think the courts made the right decision in their opinion.

In your analysis, please show evidence for your claims by closely reading and citing the opinion itself (rather than just re-presenting the case syllabus).

You must demonstrate that you have spent some time analyzing the opinion and thinking about the legal and normative rationales that the opinion embodies. You can also examine the dissenting opinions and oral arguments for the case in question.

This paper should be roughly three (3) pages long, though you are welcome to write up to five (5) pages.


Free Speech: Debs v. United States 249 U.S. 211 (1919), Morse v. Frederick 551 U.S. 393 (2007), Virginia v. Black 538 U.S. 343 (2003).

Copyright and Trademark: Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios 464 U.S. 417 (1984), Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Company 499 U.S. 340 (1991)

Defamation and Libel: Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc. 418 U.S. 323 (1974), Hustler Magazine v. Falwell 485 U.S. 46 (1988)

Obscenity: Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), Miller v. California 413 U.S. 15 (1973)