17 September 2013
Dear Senator Graham,
I only recently heard of the existence and progress of a "media shield" bill, discovering to my surprise that you are not only a supporter, but a sponsor of this bill.
Senator Graham, Please allow me a moment to explain why you should reconsider and withdraw your support.
First, when the First Amendment talks about "freedom of the press", note that this is not a capitalized word. "The press" isn't some organization to which you belong, it's an outlet for expression. It was the only mass-media outlet that existed at the time of this nation's founding. This phrase simply means that it doesn't matter HOW a person expresses his opinions... by voice or in writing... you may not abridge that right. Nor may you pass legislation determining who may or may not be covered by that right. Here's why:
"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."The high and the low of it, sir, is that you are NOT EMPOWERED to make that law, and it doesn't matter how many Senators hammer out definitions in a committee... We the People have not delegated that authority to you, nor should we ever. I would never in my life have thought it necessary to explain this to a "conservative" Senator from South Carolina, but there it is.
I know your friend Charles Schumer has stated, "I think the bill is pretty good." But remember, under the Constitution only "no law" is pretty good.
Second, such a law, even if allowed by the Constitution, even if passed by Congress, would afford exactly NO more protections than are currently guaranteed under the law. All that is necessary is for officials in the Executive branch to be held accountable for their actions when violating the law. The highest law is, of course, the Constitution. When they infringe upon the freedom of the Press, their actions are unconstitutional. And as this freedom is extended to all persons within this country, their actions are STILL unconstitutional whether taken against the New York Times, or James Rosen, or Matt Drudge, or me; a citizen blogger and constituent of yours. Again, sir, neither you nor the combined might of Congress are empowered to change that with a law.
I strongly urge you to abandon and renounce this ill-conceived and unconstitutional bill. I know you think the "media shield" bill is protective legislation, but I remind you that jack-booted police making door-to-door searches would "shield" us from crime. Not every idea passed in the name of "security" is a good one. THIS one, the "media shield bill", is one of the WORST. Stop what you're doing and do the right thing. Make us proud.
David F. Leigh
Union, South Carolina
PS. Your website requires a topic. I chose "Ethics" because I see this bill as being unethical, and none of the topics to which you restrict us comes remotely close to the issue at hand. I suggest you add a new topic for "Other Legislation" so that those of us who wish to freely offer our opinions do not feel stifled or pigeonholed.