Friday, December 01, 2006

Fighting a Losing Battle

Recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving the governments continued assault on our First Amendment rights. The case would determine whether or not reporters have any protection against government-compelled disclosure of their confidential sources and whether the government may ignore these protections based on affidavits built solely on circumstantial evidence. In other words, Federal warrants issued in situations whereas the government lacks anything resembling clear and specific evidence.

At issue is a post 9-11 article discussing possible links between al-Qaeda and two US based charities. The NY Times learned that the government planned to freeze the group’s assets and called the organizations for comment shortly before the FBI raided their offices. The Times refused to reveal its sources and the Justice Department subpoenaed over three weeks of the journalists phone records, which the Times contends would compromise the identity of a number of confidential sources having no connection with the investigation. A NY District Judge agreed with the Times, ruling that it had the right to protect it’s confidential sources. However, the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit disagreed, ruling 2-1 that the news organization had no First Amendment protection from the government and it’s desire to review the journalists phone records. Upon appeal the Supreme Court ruled that the case does not rise to the level of seriousness necessary to compel the Courts interests.

Really? I thought that was the Supreme Courts primary function. So when the government…our government continues to ignore specific constitutional protections the Supreme Court is uninterested? The First Amendment specifically addresses that the government shall make no law that will prohibit or abridge the exercise of free speech or that of a free press. Why? Because our founding Fathers recognized the importance of a free press and how it would serve as a powerful check to governmental abuses of power. Those in power don’t like media scrutiny very much and unfortunately those in Washington are trying very hard to negate the power of the press and thereby, the knowledge of the people. Second, this is an example of the government completely ignoring the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure whereas no warrants are to be issued without probable cause. If nothing else one would think that the rapidly growing split developing between the lower courts governing free speech and First Amendment protections would be enough to warrant attention from the High Court. Don’t get me wrong, I am not implying that the Court is standing on the sidelines oblivious to the impact it has on the subject. To the contrary, I believe that the Supreme Court is speaking volumes by doing nothing. By refusing to review cases such as this, the Court is quietly providing rubber-stamp approval for the egregious and unconstitutional actions of this Administration.

Quietly and without much fanfare our rights are being eliminated. One of my biggest fears is that most people don’t realize that this is not the America that they think it is or that they are led to believe it is. My bigger fear is that once Americans finally do recognize the reality as to what this country has become, the damage will be too severe and our fate sealed.

Think About it

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