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View Diary: Media ignore threat to hold Fox News reporter in contempt for protecting source in Aurora shooting (131 comments)

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  •  Defendant (0+ / 0-)

    What the story, like most of the comments, ignores is the US Constitution.

    Amendment 6:

    In all criminal prosecutions, the defendant shall enjoy the right ... to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor ...
    That doesn't mean that he can subpoena witnesses and they can decline to testify if they have a real good excuse.

    It means that the defendant can demand testimony from anyone, and the court will enforce that demand. Since, in this case, it is the defense which is calling for that testimony, the Constitution requires the judge to enforce that call.

    Now, some guys in the news business argue that this conflicts with the first amendment. They say that freedom of speech and of the press doesn't mean that each of us has the right to say or print what we choose to. They admit -- sometimes by omission -- that freedom of speech pertains to each of us and gives each of us the same right to speak. But they pretend that freedom of the press establishes a special profession with rights greater than anyone else, the right to ignore any law that they claim impedes them in practicing their profession.

    To argue that requires the belief that the founding fathers wrote in a remarkably cryptic fashion and with remarkable foresight. The OED can find no use of "the press" to mean the newspaper business before the Constitution was written. So, the same phrase contains two nouns in parallel with two entirely different meanings of freedom attached to them, one of them using a word with an essentially new meaning.

    If, OTOH, we read "freedom of speech and of the press" to mean that any of us can say or print what we wish, then the parallel construction deals with parallel rights, and quite similar rights.  

    And, of course, the special rights-for-a-special-occupation argument raises the problem of defining the occupation, much less defining the rights. If I receive information which I don't want to disclose to a court, does it count if I later start a free paper that I pass out to the houses on my block? Does it count that I publish occasional diaries on dKos? Does it count if I decide that I'm going to write a book about it, sometime?

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