Palin doesn't understand First Amendment

In an interview, Sarah Palin suggests her free speech rights are threatened when reporters criticize her.


Alex Koppelman
October 31, 2008 10:00PM (UTC)

In a radio interview that aired Friday morning, Sarah Palin said Americans' First Amendment rights are in danger. Ironically, it's apparently the press who's threatening those rights.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin said, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

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That is, to be clear, a fundamental misunderstanding of what the First Amendment is about. Let's review the text:

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.

To put it succinctly: the press can't violate Palin's First Amendment rights. If the government were to criminalize her speech, that would be a violation. But what the press is doing in criticizing Palin is exercising the First Amendment.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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