"I cannot assent to the view, if it be meant that the legislature may impair or abridge the rights of a free press and of free speech whenever it thinks that the public welfare requires that it be done. The public welfare cannot override constitutional privilege."
by:
John Marshall Harlan
(1833–1911), US Supreme Court Justice, 1877–1911
Source:
Patterson v. Colorado (1907)
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Reader comments about this quote:
The high ground to be sure. I do wonder how he would feel about the media releasing things that are damaging to the nation. In the past there was a degree of restraint. FDR was not shown to be confined to a wheel chair. It just wasn't done. Somewhere along the way we have lost that kind of sensible restraint. I believe it started with the amendment that limited a President to two terms or ten years. That was a bad move. Things have been more partisan ever since.
 -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol     
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    The anti-representative republic / Judeo / Christian Obamunist, as a stipulation to his current trip to the middle east, succumbed to Saudi demands to limit accompanying journalists to only covering formal meetings and, prohibiting any visitations elsewhere in Saudi Arabia or reporting on anything else. Never before in U.S. history would there have been imposed such constitutionally abhorrent restrictions on the accompanying media. Where is the press' outrage back at home. Historically, such demands of unconstitutional censorship would have most certainly brought to bear an immediate cancellation of the entire trip with strong official executive, legislative, and otherwise diplomatic protests. Further the prejudiced (politically correct) media is generally in support of the legislature impairing or, outright abridging any right to express anything other than the immoral fascist theocracy's line.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    note, to my above comment. "The public welfare" as imposed by todays fascist theocracy is antithetical to individual sovereignty and moral government. "constitutional privilege" is a concept offered by an alien despot with contempt for what the founders of the U.S. set forth. My above comment was focused on impairing and abridging rights.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Freedom of speech and press is a great thing. But greater still is the freedom to ignore or not to listen to folk. I exercise that freedom whenever I happen to surf by Rush Limbaugh unless I am in the mood for some hilarity and levity. Again just because you have freedom of speech others have the freedom to not listen or to ignore you. I do not know of the rules or customs that allow so much press action in terms of the White House or Congress. Generally I assume that the players on the public stage want the coverage, this is democracy at its best and I am glad Mike speaks so admirgingly of this aspect of Democracy. But legally it would appear that the Prez and Congrssmen could shut us out anytime they choose, but thankfully we have an open society and Congress thanks to CSPAN etc.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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     -- jim k, austin      
    Only Waffler can give a 5 rating to a liberty quote and make it worse with his comments. I have never doubted that Waffler puts his right to ignorance above an objective consideration of alternative viewponts and facts. He also ignores history, and if he doesn't like it, he just makes it up to fit whatever shallow pablum he is addicted to. He ignores his dependence and suggests we do the same. It just goes to prove that old addage: "Ignorance is bliss." I guess that is why he always urges us to forget about all the past, and let's move forward optimistically with our savior Obama. Yes, how blissful he wishes us all to be -- and if not, then we must hate our lives and our country and why not just leave instead of bringing him down. Narcissism at best. Get ready for the Fairness Doctrine 2 under Obama -- but then, it is for the good of the people not to get them riled up over the lies and hypocrisy of their leaders...
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Like I said Archer your freedom of speech includes are freedom to ignore you. Sadly you have never heard of nuance and obviously have not the intelligence for such a thing, thus you grab at weird and far out ideas in the hopes that you may find something on which to hang your demented personality and that your dimming and flickering intellectual star my some how miraculously rise in the opinion of those who apparently you seek to impress. For what reason I know not. As Judith from Correals commented the other day it is refreshing and noble to stand in a field of idiots and innocents and proclaim the truth. That is what I do on this site.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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