Thursday, January 19, 2017

Forty-Five Words

This morning, on WAMC's Roundtable, Joe Donahue read the First Amendment to the Constitution. With the inauguration tomorrow of a president who wants to move the press corps out of the White House and has threatened to rewrite libel law, and an Indiana state senator proposing a bill that would require public officials to dispatch law enforcement to remove protesters blocking traffic "by any means necessary," it inspired Gossips to share the forty-five-word statement that is the First Amendment, in large type.
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.


  1. Every libel law in the nation owes its existence to People v. Croswell, the 1804 case which liberated our legal definition of libelous speech from the assumptions which continue to burden expressions of like speech in the UK.

    From a garret in Hudson just west of Vico, near the corner of Warren and 2nd Streets, journalist Harry Croswell printed his broadside "The Wasp" under the pseudonym "Robert Rusticoat." He was criticizing Jefferson, a sitting president, and was later defended by Alexander Hamilton.

    Perhaps we'd be a little more justified in criticizing the ignorance of a mere Presidential candidate if we in Hudson had made some effort to commemorate Croswell's watershed achievement in human history.

    I'd like to see an historical plaque erected at the precise location of the long-gone building.

  2. Yes, Trump will need a Constitutional amendment cutting back/eviscerating the reach of the 1st Amendment. Perhaps he is unfamiliar with the Supreme Court case of New York Times Co v. Sullivan.

    More likely, Trump is just trolling. His schtick is to say something outrageous to generate buzz, and after the buzz dies down, move on to saying something else outrageous. Among other things, many other things, Trump is an attention whore. It's going to be a long four years.

    What I really want to say about Trump would not be appropriate on such a decorous blog as this one.