Abridging the freedom of the press

Posted on March 20, 2013

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Abridging the freedom of the press

Prior to the introduction of California’s various sunshine and public meeting laws, various schemes were concocted between government officials and private industry to have government willingly part with your tax dollars. Oftentimes, the higher or sole source bidders would be kicking back cash to legislators and government officials, their families or their business interests. These deals were oftentimes kept in the plain sight of public records and those that held the records did not want to produce them, much like the AOC refuses to produce some records, like an un-redacted copy of the Deloitte contract with the AOC or the contracts and billing records of the previously unlicensed contractors maintaining courthouses.

Back before these sunshine laws the courts struggled with litigation over press access to public records and back then, the press was winning access and government was losing cases that sought to shield those records. The ability of the press to gather additional background information from court records has served to flush in the larger picture of criminal conspiracies and frauds and often, even today it is the unabridged access of a free press to court records that serves as another piece in putting together the investigative story. The true damage that will be done by the impositions of any type of records fees on the media will be to our taxpaying citizens and will further undermine our faith and trust in state government for it is a more subtle form of censorship. But don’t take my word for it. Read what others have to say.

“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime . . . .” — Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Ginzberg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463 (1966)

“The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” — Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

“First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.”—Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Ashcroft V. Free Speech Coalition

CONGRESS (OR THE STATE) 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. The Bill of Rights, 1791

Abridging: Verb
To Shorten (a book, movie, speech, or other text) without losing the sense.
To Curtail (rights or privileges).

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