Sunday, February 12, 2006

John Peter Zenger And The Free Press

Freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment, the first in a series of ten we call the Bill of Rights.

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.

In 1787, when Congress was considering amendments to the United States Constitution, they remembered John Peter Zenger's trial. It was a landmark case in American jurisprudence.

Zenger, published a newspaper in New York City in the early 1700s. His paper, the New York Weekly Journal, exposed the corruption of the British colonial government. He was charged with seditious libel. Despite the best efforts of the Crown Governor of New York, who appointed the trial judge, the jury acquitted Zenger.

Our unique American notion of freedom of the press stems back to this incident in 1735. It is ingrained in our heritage, our culture, part of who we are as Americans. This freedom is vital to the protection of all our other freedoms and no other country, culture, religion or philosophy can be allowed to compromise it.


Michelle Malkin

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