Does David Shaw understand the First Amendment? Apparently not:
Are bloggers entitled to the same constitutional protection as traditional print and broadcast journalists?
Given the explosive growth of the blogosphere, some judge is bound to rule on the question one day soon, and when he does, I hope he says the nation’s estimated 8 million bloggers are not entitled to the same constitutional protection as traditional journalists–essentially newspaper, magazine, radio and television reporters and editors.
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.
Anyone see the words “journalism” or “journalist” anywhere? I don’t.
That’s because the institution of journalism as we understand it today did not exist at the time of the constitutional convention. The institution that Shaw would have usurp our rights is included in the First Amendment by the natural growth of a living document. The people created the institution of journalism and, therefore, it is a protected profession because we the people have freedom of speech and of the press. We the people, not just a subset called professional journalists.
(BTW, in the earliest conceptions of the 1st A., free speech referred to the rights of state legislators. And the press referred to partisan political rags published by factions and individual politicians.)
We should certainly debate who our shield laws should cover (the focus of Shaw’s column). But, before attempting such a thing, one must come to the debate armed with basic facts about the history of the First Amendment.