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You need to know whom...

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ghostmaster
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« on: January 20, 2011, 12:06:33 pm »

This section is for educating the public on important people past and present.

First up is:
Justice Hugo Black

Quote: "The press must be left free to publish whatever the source without censorship, injunction or prior restraint.  The press was meant to serve the governed, not the governors."  ~Justice Black~

Justice Black is often regarded as a leading defender of First Amendment rights such as the freedom of speech and of the press. He refused to accept the doctrine that the freedom of speech could be curtailed on national security grounds. Thus, in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), he voted to allow newspapers to publish the Pentagon Papers despite the Nixon Administration's contention that publication would have security implications. In his concurring opinion, Black stated, In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. […] The word 'security' is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment.  —New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 714 (1971)

Today the New York Times Co. v. United States case is used as a means for Press to fight in court.  Often winning.


As soon as Black started on the Court, he advocated judicial restraint and worked to move the Court away from interposing itself in social and economic matters. Black vigorously defended the "plain meaning" of the Constitution, rooted in the ideas of its era, and emphasized the supremacy of the legislature; for Black, the role of the Supreme Court was limited and constitutionally prescribed.

During his early years on the Supreme Court, Black helped reverse several earlier court decisions taking a narrow interpretation of federal power. Many New Deal laws that would have been struck down under earlier precedents were thus upheld. In 1939 Black was joined on the Supreme Court by Felix Frankfurter and William O. Douglas. Douglas voted alongside Black in several cases, especially those involving the First Amendment, while Frankfurter soon became one of Black's ideological foes.

He rejected the idea that the government was entitled to punish "obscene" speech. Likewise, he argued that defamation laws abridged the freedom of speech and were therefore unconstitutional. Most members of the Supreme Court rejected both of these views; Black's interpretation did attract the support of Justice Douglas.

However, he did not believe that individuals had the right to speak wherever they pleased. He delivered the majority opinion in Adderley v. Florida (1966), controversially upholding a trespassing conviction for protestors who demonstrated on government property. He also dissented from Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), in which the Supreme Court ruled that students had the right to wear armbands (as a form of protest) in schools, writing,

    While I have always believed that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments neither the State nor the Federal Government has any authority to regulate or censor the content of speech, I have never believed that any person has a right to give speeches or engage in demonstrations where he pleases and when he pleases.

Moreover, Black took a narrow view of what constituted "speech" under the First Amendment; for him, "conduct" did not deserve the same protections that "speech" did.[66] For example, he did not believe that flag burning was speech; in Street v. New York (1969), he wrote: "It passes my belief that anything in the Federal Constitution bars a State from making the deliberate burning of the American flag an offense."[67] Similarly, he dissented from Cohen v. California (1971), in which the Court held that wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words "**** the Draft" was speech protected by the First Amendment. He agreed that this activity "was mainly conduct, and little speech."

As a Justice, Black held the view that the Court should literally enforce constitutional guarantees, especially the First Amendment free speech clause. He was often labeled an ‘activist’ because of his willingness to review legislation that arguably violated constitutional provisions. Black maintained that literalism was necessary to cabin judicial power."

In a 1968 public interview, reflecting on his most important contributions, Black put his dissent from Adamson v. California "at the top of the list, but then spoke with great eloquence from one of his earliest opinions in Chambers v. Florida (1940)

Black's absolutism led him to enforce the rights of the Constitution, rather than attempting to define a meaning, scope, or extent to each right. Black expressed his view on the Bill of Rights in his opinion in the 1947 case, Adamson v. California, which he saw as his "most significant opinion written:"

    "I cannot consider the Bill of Rights to be an outworn 18th century 'strait jacket.' ... Its provisions may be thought outdated abstractions by some. And it is true that they were designed to meet ancient evils. But they are the same kind of human evils that have emerged from century to century wherever excessive power is sought by the few at the expense of the many. In my judgment the people of no nation can lose their liberty so long as a Bill of Rights like ours survives and its basic purposes are conscientiously interpreted, enforced, and respected... I would follow what I believe was the original intention of the Fourteenth Amendment - to extend to all the people the complete protection of the Bill of Rights. To hold that this Court can determine what, if any, provisions of the Bill of Rights will be enforced, and if so to what degree, is to frustrate the great design of a written Constitution.

Adamson v. Californiahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adamson_v._California
Chambers v. Florida:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chambers_v._Florida
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