Palin: First Amendment Confusion?

This past Halloween (2008) Governor Palin stated in an interview:

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”  *

The Bill of Rights is our fond name for the first ten amendments to The U.S. Constitution.

Patrick Henry, a forward-looking Founding Father if ever there was one,  demanded in 1788 that The Constitution be adopted with The Bill of Rights embedded in its structure:

“If you intend to reserve your unalienable rights, you must have the most express stipulation; for, …. If the people do not think it necessary to reserve them, they will be supposed to be given up.”

The First Amendment (the cornerstone of our Republic) states,

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 peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In   New York times Co. v. United States, 403 U.C. 713(1971) Supreme Court Justice Black underscored the inviolable role of the Press in preserving the Republic (italics added for emphasis):

In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam war, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do.”

(*As a Governor and candidate for public office,  Governor Palin is a public citizen whose formulation and execution of public policy  must be reviewed by the people and their watchdogs, The Press.)


A public official  who does not understand the legal and indelible principles of this nation is a danger to the citizenry.  There is no reason to believe s/he will defend what is beyond her ken.

Worse,  her lack of respect for  the Press’ obligation to the citizenry signifies an autocratic view,  an inherent  denial of  our  right to be informed — our right to be The Ultimate Deciders.

That such a person might be President in an age when Congress has ceded power to the Executive,  should chill us all.

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