More chilling news on first amendment freedoms brought to you by the black robed nannies who sit on the Supreme Court:
WASHINGTON â€” The Supreme Court refused Monday to shield the news media from being sued for accurately reporting a politician’s false charges against a rival.
Instead, the justices let stand a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that a newspaper can be forced to pay damages for having reported that a city councilman called the mayor and the council president “liars,” “queers” and “child molesters.”
Apparently, it’s just not good enough any more to simply report “the story.” Now reporters have to make sure that any charges bandied about by opposing politicians are actually “true.”
Does this mean I can’t call John Kerry a lying, sniveling, traitorous weasel anymore? Probably:
In their appeal to the high court, lawyers for the paper said news organizations should be allowed to report what public figures say, regardless of whether it is true or false.
Otherwise, they said, for example, the press could not have reported last year on the charges lodged against Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth because Kerry’s supporters said their charges were false.
In other words, if this ruling had taken place last year, John Kerry would be in the White House sipping French wine and desperately trying to figure out how to turn the coming victory in Iraq into certain defeat.
Am I missing something here? Is it really this complicated? How can you interpret the First Amendment so narrowly?
Politicians have been calling each other names for 217 years in this country. Half the fun of reading newspapers here in Chicago is finding the newest epithets hurled against “Little Boss” Daley and his gang of sticky fingered truants who’ve robbed the city blind for years. Now the Tribune and Sun Times are going to have to fact check every allegation. Wouldn’t you love to see the next press conference?
Reporter: Mr. Mayor, you’ve been called a crook, a cheat, a bum, and fairy by Alderman Skijanowitz. Would you care to deny those charges and, if not, is it alright if we print ‘em anyway?
A pox on the Court!