The Nation Magazine v. Department of Defense Historic Case

At a Glance

Case Description 

In The Nation Magazine v. Department of Defense, The Nation magazine along with the Center for Constitutional Rights charged the DOD with violating the First and Fifth Amendments in its establishment of press pools during the first Gulf War.

At the onset of the first Gulf War, the DOD implemented press pools to control and monitor the press in Iraq. While those not in the pool were denied access to the war, even members of the press pool were told where and what to report and required by the DOD to travel at all times with an escort.

The Nation magazine argued that the press pools infringed on its right to access and gather news in its effort to serve the American public.

The DOD stated that the purpose of the press pools was to design “a cooperative arrangement designed to balance the media's desire for unilateral coverage with... the responsibility to maintain operational security, protect the safety of the troops, and prevent interference with military operations.”

Though the Southern District Court of New York found that it was qualified to rule on the matter under the separation of powers and that the magazine had standing to sue, Judge Leonard Sand ruled that the issue was moot and he could not rule on the constitutionality of the press pools at that specific time. 

The press pool was lifted in March 1991.