Anderson v. Dunn (1821) upheld the right of Congress to cite individuals
for contempt but recognized that contempt citations could suppress First
Contempt of Court Cases
Under English common law, courts had intended the power to punish individuals who showed contempt for their authority on the theory that such contempts were contempts of the king.
In the U.S. system of government, civil contempts of court are directed at individuals who refuse to do something that a court has ordered done for the benefit of another party; complying with the order usually settles the issue at hand. Criminal contempts, which are more likely to raise First Amendment issues, involve trespassing against the dignity of the court itself.
Following are cases involving the First Amendment and contempt of court.
In Gompers v. Buck’s Stove and Range Co., the Court rejected the claim that
First Amendment rights protect individuals who violate injunctions against
Patterson v. Colorado (1907), which upheld a contempt citation against a
paper that criticized a state supreme court, has been superseded by new
First Amendment interpretations.