Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Freedom of Speech

From The Federalist:
Our political system is called unfree by people who hate the president, but they fail to note the ways in which the American Constitution prevents any president from infringing our rights. Trump may, as RWB notes, have “declared the press an ‘enemy of the American people,’” but he has done little to make those words anything more than the complaints of a thin-skinned politician against a press that delights in tweaking his nose.

RWB also notes that the Obama administration “waged a war on whistleblowers who leaked information about its activities, leading to the prosecution of more leakers than any previous administration combined” and the absence of a press shield law. In this, RWB shows that they are less interested in rights than in special privileges for reporters.

This is the wrong way to understand Americans’ rights and our Constitution’s protection of those rights. Freedom of the press is not a class right for journalists. Instead, it is an expansion and amplification of the freedom of speech. Free speech is the right to say what you want; free press is the right to publish those opinions. They are freedoms that belong to all of us. If granting special rights to reporters would help our ranking on RWB’s charts, it would also make us a less equal society, privileging the actions of one profession over those of ordinary people.

In America, that universal right is protected not only by the First Amendment, but by the separation of powers that is essential to our liberty. If Trump sat at the head of a unitary government, one could imagine how the First Amendment might be ignored. (Read more.)

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