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Xavier Cortada’s painting Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo serves as a visual representation of the key issues before the Supreme Court in that case. Which voices are represented in the media? Who decides that question? Should the media represent a variety of voices or is media access controlled by media ownership? Miami Herald v. Tornillo asked the Supreme Court to decide these questions as a matter of First Amendment law. In doing so, the Court confronted two different visions of the First Amendment: one based in equality, which mandated media access for multiple voices, and one based in liberty, which protected the media from interference, including access by third parties. Rarely has the Supreme Court faced such a stark choice between First Amendment paradigms and rarely has it stated its view of the First Amendment as clearly as it did in its decision. How the case reached the Court, and how the Court decided it, are stories of constitutional and media history. They also involve two larger-than-life Florida figures, Pat Tornillo and the Miami Herald. Without them, this particular issue may never have reached the Supreme Court, at least not in this particularly stark way.

In: Painting Constitutional Law