On 29th February Judge Andrew P. Napolitano writes
“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” — First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
In the oral argument of the famous U.S. Supreme Court cases known collectively as the Pentagon Papers Case, the late Justice William O. Douglas asked a government lawyer if the Department of Justice views the “no law” language in the First Amendment to mean literally no law. The setting was an appeal of the Nixon administration’s temporarily successful efforts to bar The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing documents stolen from the Department of Defense by Daniel Ellsberg
Yet the whole purpose of the First Amendment is to assure open, wide, robust debate about the government, free from government interference and threats. How can that debate take place in darkness and ignorance?
If “no law” doesn’t really mean no law, we are deluding ourselves, and freedom is not reality. It is merely a wished-for fantasy.
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