Dick Durbin’s press protection racket

Dick Durbin’s press protection racket

Uh-oh, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, best known for likening American servicemen to Nazis, is looking to limit your First Amendment rights, if not ours. “Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech,” he writes. So far so good. “But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.”

That goes against America’s entire constitutional tradition. In Lovell v. Griffin (1938), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court: “The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest. The press in its connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.”…

Durbin now wants to establish such a privilege by statute, so his call for limiting freedom of the press is ostensibly designed to expand it. Obviously a generalized grant of immunity from the obligation to testify would be unworkable, so it is necessary for Durbin to define the special class of “journalists” who would receive it.

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