Does the First Amendment’s incontrovertible declaration that
“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
apply to the actions of the President? The President can make no law, but can the President take actions that abridge the freedom of speech or of the press? If he does, and the Congress and courts do not step in to stop him, will the freedoms disappear?
We the People Must Protect Our Liberty
“. . . what is clear is that the framing generation understood that liberty of the press mattered. . . . the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 protected the press. [It reads] “That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.” . . . James Madison’s original proposal to Congress [reads] “All of these formulations make it clear that the reason to protect the press is because it is a ‘bulwark’”—i.e., a protector against external danger—of liberty. The external danger to be feared, of course, was despotic government. The press, in other words, was an essential tool for the preservation of liberal democracy because it kept the people informed of misbehavior by government officials, and so permitted a response—ideally through the democratic process, but if that was denied then through revolution. That the Press Clause plays this role has been acknowledged by hordes of commentators and is not really controversial. But this acknowledgement places the Press Clause squarely at the center of the Democratic First Amendment. (Bhagwat, Ashutosh. “The Democratic First Amendment.” Northwestern University Law Review 110.5 (2016): 1097-1124.)
Trump’s first news conference since his election demonstrated clearly enough that he either does not understand freedom of the press or that he is determined to abridge the freedom of the press by whatever means he can find at his disposal. One of the many accounts of that conference is titled, “Trump pits his staff against the press.”
Trump’s constant denigration of the press during the campaign, and his rude and crude methods of quieting reporters hardly need documentation. Americans are concerned (angered? frightened? aggrieved?) about Trump’s attempts to thwart the press in order to limit what the American people know about the workings of his administration.
This blog will provide a forum for sharing both information about the Trump administration’s anti-press activities and actions readers and followers can take to counter those activities.
Watch this space for suggestions for contacting news media to show support and for ways to participate in actions opposing Trump’s policies and activities in relation to the press.
(Note: this blog has moved through several incarnations having to do with the 2016 Presidential campaign. Since the domain name is registered and is available for all uses of a blog, we will keep it as our focal point for the present although we will most likely move to a website or other format eventually.)