First Amendment: Trump claims TV news commentator violated law in revealing tax return

After MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow discussed a copy of two pages of President Donald Trump’s tax return from 2005, Trump called the move a ratings “stunt” and illegal. In fact, federal law makes it illegal to publish an unauthorized tax return. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment allowed disclosure of information when privacy is secondary to public interest. But the ruling did not concern a specific law preventing the publication of tax data. (Law Newz, March 14, 2017, by Rachel Stockman)

Adam Liptak in The New York Times, March 15, 2017, writes that since Trump’s tax returns are of such monumental public concern, it would follow that there is no compelling privacy interest.

Eriq Gardner writes in Hollywood Reporter, March 15, 2017, that Maddow could well prevail on First Amendment grounds but that the law is far from settled on the issue. There is a federal court decision that First Amendment protection does not extend to those revealing information with the knowledge that it was acquired illegally.

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