July 12, 2019

Trump's Attack On Democracy Continues

We'll start here:
Let's go see what the Constitution (remember that one, Trump fans?) says:
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. [Emphases added.]
Doesn't say anything about whether "you see something good and then you purposefully write bad" does it?

Perhaps Trump was talking defamation - and for that (and with the usual caveats that I'm not a lawyer, etc etc) we can go to New York Times v Sullivan which states:
The constitutional guarantees require, we think, a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with "actual malice" - that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
Note they're talking false/not false, not good/bad.

And in a concurring opinion, Justice Goldberg wrote:
In my view, the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution afford to the citizen and to the press an absolute, unconditional privilege to criticize official conduct despite the harm which may flow from excesses and abuses. The prized American right "to speak one's mind," cf. Bridges v. California, about public officials and affairs needs "breathing space to survive,". The right should not depend upon a probing by the jury of the motivation of the citizen or press. The theory of our Constitution is that every citizen may speak his mind and every newspaper express its view on matters of public concern and may not be barred from speaking or publishing because those in control of government think that what is said or written is unwise, unfair, false, or malicious. In a democratic society, one who assumes to act for the citizens in an executive, legislative, or judicial capacity must expect that his official acts will be commented upon and criticized. Such criticism cannot, in my opinion, be muzzled or deterred by the courts at the instance of public officials under the label of libel. [Emphases added.]
And yet the vulgarity sitting in the Oval Office wants to deny free speech protections to anyone writing anything "bad" about him when he thinks it should be "good."

The threat to all of our freedoms is right there. In the open. For all to see.

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