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abridging the freedom of the press

 

Since "Congress shall make no law" that permits anyone in government doing that, anyone in government doing that is doing so unlawfully.


T

hose committing such unlawful acts are clearly guilty of one or more "high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The late Richard Criley, who preceded White House official David Axelrod's Communist mentor Don Rose as chairman of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, saw the extreme danger this highly unforgivable unlawfulness poses to the whole public.

Our system of individual rights depends upon their availability to everyone — including some people whose beliefs we may not like....

The First Amendment declares that "Congress shall make no law ... 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." This protects us from an abusive government policy against disagreement or dissent. The colonists wrote it after their treatment under repressive policies of the British, to guarantee freedom in America.

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms that are both individual and collective. If the individual is not free to express his or her opinion, not only is that individual deprived of a basic freedom, but the rest of society is deprived of the right to hear all sides of a controversial question.

Without meaningful debate, democracy is reduced to a hollow shell. The wisdom of any decision that is translated into governmental action depends on the public's access to all the pertinent facts and opinions. When government propaganda replaces free debate, the consent of the governed has been engineered, and democracy does not properly function.

Under the Constitution, the people are the ultimate authority. The preamble to the Constitution declares, "We, the People of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution...." This empowerment of the people depends upon our right to know what the government is doing in our name. If the public cannot discover the truth because the government suppresses opinion or conceals relevant facts (calling it security), we citizens lose control of our democracy and take a step toward dictatorship. The rights of all are diminished....

"Our First Amendment was a bold effort ... to establish a country with no legal restrictions of any kind upon the subjects people could investigate, discuss, and deny. The Framers knew, better perhaps than we do today, the risks they were taking. They knew that free speech might be the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny." –U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black



Speaking of those colonists, their first Continental Congress, in a letter to the inhabitants of Quebec, Canada, wrote,

The last right we shall mention, regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated, into more honourable and just modes of conducting affairs. [1 Journals of the Continental Congress (1904 ed.) 108 (October 26, 1774); also quoted in Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 717]


If ever there were oppressive officers in need of being shamed or intimidated into more something that could — if you squint really, really hard — even remotely resemble "honourable and just modes of conducting affairs," it's the slithering and scurrying ones presently infesting our White House.

Sagaciously, the original Democratic Party platform, on which Thomas Jefferson was first elected president, formally declared the party's staunch opposition against

all violations of the Constitution, to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. [S.S. Bloom, Why We Are Democrats (New York: Belford, Clarke & Co., 1883), p. 54: Platform of 1800, "Freedom of speech and of the press"]


Government itself is force. The powers we expressly consent to loan it are the only ones our public agents may lawfully exercise. We never intended that those agents, hired and paid by us, would spend their time and efforts embarking on campaigns of persuasion or intimidation, or "declaring war" against complainers or critics, or to shut out, suppress, or silence press organizations, as one or more of the same unlawful means of restraint and censorship favored exclusively by tyrants for enabling themselves to enlarge or newly create the powers they exercise.

Anyone in government who abridges so our press or any part of it, has clearly committed an impeachable violation of the Constitution.

When a president — in whom we have solely vested our entire grant of executive power — commits any such high crimes and misdemeanors, either personally or by having willfully allowed, approved, or authorized the unlawful acts of any of those in his branch of government, he

has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.


In this matter, nothing short of the continued existence of the freedom of the press is at stake.

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