This is a serious question… Does the First Amendment apply to you? Now, I agree… that’s a pretty broad question. The first Amendment, as you know, contains many parts. Let’s narrow it down a bit. It reads:
“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.”
The freedom of the Press is arguably the backbone of our constitutional republic. Edmund Burke referred to the Press as the Fourth Estate, however here in the United States, the Press is more accurately described as the fourth branch of government.
When all other checks and balances fail, the Press is supposed to be there to ensure that government is held accountable in the eyes of the people. When government overreaches or begins down the path towards tyranny, the Press is supposed to be there to shine the light on illicit activity.
We all know that over the past few years, the lap dog media has been at Barack Obama’s beck and call. Last week’s allegations that news correspondents are forced to submit their questions in advance to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is just another example of how the media is giving this President a pass.
However, not all reporters are pushovers. Not all news agencies are devoted to keep Barack Obama’s true nature hidden. There are a brave few that speak out in the name of liberty and justice and, like clock-work, they find the government’s sights turned on them.
We all remember last year when the FBI tapped 20+ phone lines at the Associated Press in an attempt to figure out who was the source for a story on a failed al-Qaeda terror plot. A few days after this became known, Eric Holder and the Justice Department were revealed to have spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen, tapping his phone lines, monitoring his emails, and labeling him a criminal co-conspirator for receiving a “leak” from a State Department contractor.
All across the board, this should be a startling reminder to EVERYONE that when the government wants to come after you, it can and it will. When it comes to government targeting programs, there is no difference between the media and the people at large. If you oppose this President, for whatever reason, you will be punished!
Now, the Senate is prepared to vote on the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, which would protect the media from being targeted by the government for reporting or compelled to name confidential sources. Don’t let the name fool you… According to the law, these protections would only apply to “covered journalists.” Last time I checked, the First Amendment applied to everyone!
“Covered journalists,” as the name suggests, applies only to those journalists who would be protected under the new law. That’s funny, I thought the First Amendment applied to everyone!?
Under this new law, a “covered journalist” will be defined as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an organization that disseminates news or information. The individual would have to have been employed for one year within the last two decades or at least three months within the last five years. The Courts will have the sole discretion to determine whether someone is a “covered journalist” or not.
What would explicitly not be covered under the law? Anyone who is a blogger or posts on social media would not be considered a “covered journalist” if Sen. Chuck Schumer’s law is passed. Apparently, the founding fathers couldn’t possibly have intended to protect technology they had no idea would exist.
The Left LOVES to make these arguments. They say that since the founding fathers were only acquainted with muskets, the Second Amendment couldn’t possibly apply to modern firearms. Even though a repeating firearm (the Puckel Gun) was already invented at the time of the founding, the Left loves to argue that the Constitution doesn’t apply to technology it hates.
The First Amendment applies to everyone! The press isn’t just limited to organizations that print newspapers or own television channels. Today, anyone with a computer or smart phone and an opinion can be a journalist. It is estimated that 40% of all Americans receive their news from social media.
Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are trying to alter the constitution by passing a law. It doesn’t work that way! The First Amendment applies to everyone, not just individuals declared by a court to be a “covered journalist!” That is like saying that the Second Amendment only applies to the military!
The First Amendment protects everyone. It protects me, it protects you, and it protects anyone else who wants to comment on politics or government policy. The media truly is the fourth branch of government, designed to hold the government accountable when all other checks and balances fail. The Executive Branch is already going after journalists who are critical of the administration. Now with this law, the Legislative Branch is giving the court system the ability to pick and choose who is a protected journalist and who is subject to government intimidation!
Some of the most important stories of the past few years have been discovered by citizen journalists working on their own to hold government accountable. If this bill passes, it will create a privileged class within the Media and allow the government to go after citizen journalists!
Congress needs to pass a law that protects the media from government targeting… there is no doubt about that. But Congress needs to make sure that these protections apply to EVERYONE, not just the news agencies that do the administration’s bidding. It doesn’t matter whether someone works for Fox News or CNN, or whether someone blogs from home. Free speech is free speech, plain and simple.
No surprise, the Democrats support this bill. But many Republicans support it as well. Our First Amendment rights are precious. The freedom of speech and freedom of the press are what separates the United States from many other parts of the world. For Congress to propose a definition of the “press” that excludes such a vast number of media types is insulting.
Believe it or not, when you tweet, write something on Facebook, or even send out a mass email, that makes you a part of the media! Yet Senator Dianne Feinstein – the go-to Democrat for violating constitutional rights – says that "journalism has a certain tradecraft… It’s a profession. I recognize that everyone can think they're a journalist." If I am looking for a clarification of whether constitutional rights apply, Dianne Feinstein would be the LAST person I would go to. Many Republicans disagree with the law, but not because it is unconstitutional… They think that the bill’s definition of a journalist is too broad!
This is just one of the latest attempts by Congress to say that the Constitution doesn’t apply to the latest technologies. Congress doesn’t think that the Fourth Amendment protects your cellphone data, it doesn’t think that the Second Amendment protects your right to own a modern firearm, and now they are claiming that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to people who post on social media or operate their own personal blog.
Enough is enough! Our constitutional rights are universal. Our founders did not write the Bill of Rights just so it could be reinterpreted by partisan legislators, executives, and judges down the road!
For the past year, we have been pressuring Congress to rein in the Executive branch’s tyranny. You have joined us in faxing Congress, telling them that it is unacceptable for them to just sit by while the Obama administration targets journalists and American citizens alike. After a whole year of lobbying, Congress has heard our pleas and is now poised to pass a reform bill to stop the Obama administration’s targeting programs. Unfortunately, the bill does more harm than good!
Instead of protecting EVERYONE from the Obama administration’s targeting, the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 only protects “covered journalists.” The government does not have a right to pick and choose who is allowed constitutional rights and who is subject to government bullying!
We must stand against this tyranny and stop Congress from setting a precedent by narrowing the First Amendment!