Grosjean v. American Press Co.

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Grosjean v. American Press Co.
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued January 13–14, 1936
Decided February 10, 1936
Full case nameAlice Lee Grosjean, Supervisor of Public Accounts for the State of Louisiana v. American Press Co., et al.
Citations297 U.S. 233 (more)
56 S. Ct. 444; 80 L. Ed. 660; 1936 U.S. LEXIS 524
Case history
PriorAm. Press Co. v. Grosjean, 10 F. Supp. 161 (E.D. La. 1935); probable jurisdiction noted, 56 S. Ct. 129 (1935).
The Louisiana tax was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Charles E. Hughes
Associate Justices
Willis Van Devanter · James C. McReynolds
Louis Brandeis · George Sutherland
Pierce Butler · Harlan F. Stone
Owen Roberts · Benjamin N. Cardozo
Case opinion
MajoritySutherland, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I

Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233 (1936), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court over a challenge to a separate sales tax on newspapers with circulation of over 20,000.


Louisiana Governor Huey Long received more support in rural areas whereas the larger urban newspapers tended to be more critical of him. His administration levied a 2% gross receipts tax in an attempt to tax newspapers critical of him into submission. The 13 newspapers impacted by the tax all sued in federal court.


The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, found the tax unconstitutional. The decision held that states could charge customary taxes on media but higher taxes ran afoul of the First Amendment. Specifically, the court found the law similar to the British Stamp Act of 1712 in that it would it suppress free speech through taxation and allowing a similar law would be against the clear Founders' Intent of the Bill of Rights. Justice George Sutherland wrote that "the revolution really began when, in 1765, that government sent stamps for newspaper duties to the American colonies." [1]

The case is often cited because it defined corporations as "persons" for purposes of analysis under the Equal Protection clause.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 246 (1936).

Further reading[edit]

  • Cortner, Richard C. (1996). The Kingfish and the Constitution: Huey Long, the First Amendment, and the Emergence of Modern Press Freedom in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-29842-4.
  • Schwartz, Bernard (1992). Freedom of the press. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2505-3.

External links[edit]