Did Trump Just Trash the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press?

dnldtrmp4One of our most cherished rights in this country is the First Amendment’s right to free speech and freedom of the press. It is no coincidence that these rights are protected in the First Amendment. The Founding Fathers fled their home countries in order to escape heavy-handed laws and government. They wanted the freedom to be able to criticize the government and politicians. So it came as a shock to many that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump now seems to be attacking this freedom.

“One of the things I’m going to do if I win,” Trump said Friday during a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

It’s not clear what he would need to change based on that description. There are years of established constitutional law decisions protecting journalists from libel lawsuits, though not from the kind of libel Trump describes above. A plaintiff must show that 1), the statement was untrue, and 2) it caused damage to their reputation. There is an even higher bar for public figures. They must show the journalist also had actualmalice, or what Trump described as “purposely negative and horrible and false articles.” The operative word here is purposely. If it can be shown that the journalist misrepresented the public figure not accidentally but purposely — that is, with malice — then the journalist is fair game.

Read the rest of the article at The Stream

Comments are closed.