Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More of the 1st Amendment - Freedom of Press

Normally I post about the religion clauses of the First Amendment, but the amendment also contains important protections for speech and the press. Here is the entire amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Now we have a United States senator suggesting federal partnerships with newspapers to save those that are financially strapped. And, of course, there would be conditions. The papers would not be allowed to editorialize. However, as seen in this previous post (and others), many newspapers have a very left-leaning bias in their news/reporting sections. Not surprisingly, the senator proposing this new government entanglement is a Democrats. The whole story is linked below.

Why did the Founders write the speech/press portion withing the same clause? Why did they include it at all? I'm sure part of the reason is that they knew our country's survival depended on free exchange of ideas and open critique of the government. But what if several of our newspapers are partly gagged by the federal government (voluntarily, in exchange for federal dollars, of course)? Read my previous post about the 10th Amendment. It is clear in my mind, at least, that the Founders would not have approved of our federal government buying so much of a stake in so many companies and industries as they are now doing. But it is almost certain they would not approve of the government getting involved in the news business.

Each member of the Senate takes this oath of office:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God." (According to

While they promise to support the Constitution, and to be faithful to it, sometimes I wonder if many of these folks have ever read it! We are so far from the authorizations allowed by the Constitution that I fear we will never make our way back.

Senator Introduces "Newspaper Revitalization Act"

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