Just over 40 years ago, in the wake of Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers, the Nixon administration worked furiously to prevent the further publication of the documents, take The New York Times to court and hunt Ellsberg across the country. After the Times was enjoined from publishing, The Washington Post and then others went to the presses.
But one senator made sure that the documents would get all the way out -- and stay out. Before the Supreme Court could rule on whether the papers could be published, Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) obtained them from Ellsberg and went to the Senate floor to read them into the congressional record in an epic filibuster. But he couldn't find a quorum, so he convened a meeting of his Senate Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee and read until the early morning. When he finished, he asked unanimous consent that the remaining thousands of pages be placed in the record, as well. With nobody present to object, he granted his own request, and the game was over.
The next day, the Supreme Court ruled that the Times could go forward with its publication.
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