The Supreme Court held that a special tax on large newspapers was invalid because it abridged the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
When Louisiana’s largest newspapers were critical of Senator Huey Long, his supporters in the legislature imposed a special license tax on all newspapers with more than twenty thousand subscribers. The tax applied to only 13 of the 163 newspapers in the state, and 12 of the 13 had actively opposed Long’s policies. Speaking for a unanimous Court, Justice George Sutherland
Sutherland’s opinion observed that newspapers were not immune from nondiscriminatory general taxation. The Court emphasized this principle in Minnesota Star and Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue
Near v. Minnesota
Speech and press, freedom of