Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Teaches Wrong Lesson On Freedom Of The Press

from the except-for-when-it-comes-to-supreme-court-justices dept

You would think that a Supreme Court Justice (and the people who work for one) would know better than to tell any sort of news publication -- even a high school newspaper -- that he needed to approve any articles written about a speech he gave, but that appears to be exactly what happened with Justice Anthony Kennedy and a recent speech to Dalton High School students in Manhattan. The people who work for Kennedy are now trying to claim that this was just to make sure the quotes were accurate, but those who work for the school paper say they were under the impression they needed full approval of the article first. It's amazing that whoever made the request (whether Kennedy himself or some staffer) didn't realize how bad that would look, especially from a Justice who has always been a strong proponent of strong First Amendment rights...


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  1.  
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    Blatant Coward (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 3:32am

    Deny to authorization of approval of forbidding y/n?

    Maybe Justice Kennedy needs to check with Rupert Murdoch to see if it's OK?

     

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  2.  
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    mike allen (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 3:47am

    ooops

    new P.A not knowing the views of his/ her employer could ne the reason. but then what does that tell you?

     

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  3.  
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    John Doe, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 4:13am

    Do as I say, not as I do

    I guess the the 1st amendment applies to everyone but him?

     

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  4.  
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    Yogi, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 4:28am

    Nothing is free

    Clearly he has been infected by that RIAA bug going around and thus realized that nothing is free, certainly not a speech from a supreme justice.

    Kennedy is promoting a new model called "speech for rent". He just wanted to check the amount of "Kennedy speak" in the article in order to price it correctly.

     

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  5.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 4:36am

    Re: Do as I say, not as I do

    seeing supreme court rulings in the past, i would say the entire supreme court system is immune to the whole constitution.

    They have a new one there:

    rule 1: we do what we want
    rule 2: make life hell for everyone else.

     

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  6.  
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    Just Askin, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 5:40am

    Mike, Did you get his prior approval on your story?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 5:59am

    Re: Re: Do as I say, not as I do

    I can understand number 1, but number 2 is a little harsh there.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 6:17am

    First amendment?

    The guy has every right to not give speeches, not give interviews. He does these things but just wants to be able to approve what is written about him? What is the big deal there? It isn't a free speech issue.

    If people don't agree with his policy, then he doesn't give the speech or interview. That is his constitutional right.

     

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  9.  
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    Coughing Monkey (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    My first reaction to this matter was that Supreme Court Justice Kennedy was merely exposing a hard cold fact that we are not as free a people as we are lead to believe but after a few minutes of waiting for my username to reach my email account I remembered that it is also a known human factor that we usually rise to the point of our own incompetency. And this dear students is a classic example of such incompetency.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    I can see why Kennedy or his staff could be worried about what is written in a high school newspaper. Those things are published (some even on the web) and typically stored for quite some time. With all due respect, high school journalists have not developed the skills to report accurately.

    With your reputation on the line, would you like to be misquoted by a 16-year-old? Then if people attack you, you'll have to place blame on the kid for being wrong and make things look even worse.

     

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  11.  
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    A Dan (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    Dept question

    Is the tagline supposed to be "except-for-when-it-comes-to-supreme-court-justices" or is there some joke that I didn't get?

     

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  12.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:05am

    Re:

    It could be worse. The students could learn, wrongly, that they need the approval of every subject they interview or quote. That would be bad for their skills to report accurately.

     

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  13.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re:

    Good thing there's no chance of THAT happening, eh? (sorry, forgot the snarky bit)

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:14am

    You just don't get it do you?

    He wants control over how he is portrayed, so he either gets approval or he doesn't give the speech. It is just that simple, nothing at all wrong with that.

    Tiger Woods wants to control how he is portrayed, so he gives very few interviews. People are still free to write about him, but without his help. Same with the justice. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Steve Carlton did the same thing, for which reporters wrote about how bad a guy he was when he wasn't.

    Seems media types think that they have a god given right to have access to everything, when in fact people are free to tell them to take a hike. That tends to get their panties in a wad.

     

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  15.  
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    Bradley Stewart, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:45am

    Who Left That Banana Peel

    on the floor. I think that it would have been best if Justice Kennedy had just requested that the entire context of his speech be printed in the school paper. At this point it would be up to the publisher. Editorial or interpretation should be included as well. Well that's what I would have done if I was him.

     

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  16.  
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    Brendan (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    Re:

    Sure, he (stupidly) ask for all attendees to sign some sort of NDA or other contract indicating such.

    But they didn't, and he chose to speak. They can write whatever they want, without needing to ask him.

     

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  17.  
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    Brendan (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re:

    edit: ...he *could have* asked... but did not.

     

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  18.  
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    Daemon_ZOGG, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 8:11am

    "..trying to claim that this was just to make sure the quotes were accurate"

    Yeeeah right..And I suppose if larger scale news outlets had been involved, i.e. Manhattan Mercury, Manhattan Times, New York Times, it would have been business as usual without incident. Calling all spin-doctors! " }:> "

    The next time Anthony Kennedy gives a speech.. Someone needs to hire that reporter from Iraq to throw his shoes at him. You remember? The same awesome, cool reporter that threw his shoes at, then, president Bush during his speech. Always a big favorite of mine on "YouTube.com".

    ;)

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 8:37am

    Daemon, when is the last time the Justice sat down with the New York Times?

    Wonder why?

    He sets up conditions for giving a speech or an interview, when someone goes against those conditions (which are agreed upon prior to the speech) you wonder why there is a problem?

     

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  20.  
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    Brad Morrison, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    re: Who Left That Banana Peel

    Of course! The common carrier scenario, where editing exposes the carrier to any liability for content.

    Kennedy has it backwards: Fact-checking is the responsiblity--and the right--of the publisher. Terms for speaking in public or giving an interview are generally negotiated up front, not afterward. With previous negotiation, once the words are spoken, they're fair game.

    The high school, and especially the student editor(s) are on the hook for allowing themselves to be intimidated by the title of a high office. We Americans tend to forget our rights in circumstances like this.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 9:30am

    Re: Dept question

    Yes, typo. Fixed. Thanks.

     

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  22.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Re:

    He wants control over how he is portrayed, so he either gets approval or he doesn't give the speech. It is just that simple, nothing at all wrong with that.

    Sure, if this was agreed to ahead of time. It's not clear from the article IMO if that was the case. If no such agreement was made ahead of time, this was absolutely inappropriate to demand screening the article. If there was such an agreement, it was questionable at best of the school to agree to it. Though it would be predictable that a high school would agree to almost anything for a speaker such as a Supreme Court justice.

     

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  23.  
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    Daltonian, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    I went to Dalton. Admission is roughly $20,000 a year. The point in getting amazing guest speakers like a sitting Supreme Court Justice to come to the school is not to then antagonize them after the fact. It is to provide an extremely enriching educational opportunity, and, more importantly, a network opportunity. The networking connections made at Dalton often prove to be vastly superior to the networking connections made at even the most prestigious universities.

    In other words, this is totally ridiculous. You do not bite the hand that feeds you. No "first amendment right" is served by allowing an extremely rare guest speaker vet his comments in a paper with a circulation of 1500; additionally, I'm sure there will be plenty of debate about this in the school's government. These are not unsophisticated students; they are future judges and business magnates.

    Tl;dr
    Dalton's job is to make sure incredible speakers like this keep coming; not piss them off over nearly irrelevant first amendment concerns. Also, first amendment does NOT apply to a private school's newspaper.

     

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  24.  
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    Former Dalton Kid, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    This is bullshit. Dalton sends nearly half of its kids to Ivy League schools, and something like 10-15% of each of its graduating class becomes lawyers. A ton of student parents ARE lawyers and judges. No one is ignorant of the law. The 11th grade curriculum requires passing one of the most rigorous high school constitutional law tests in the entire nation. The real lesson here is that daltonians got to ask J. Kennedy questions; they already bloody well know about the first amendment.

     

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  25.  
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    Daltonian, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re:

    not a chance. if they were to "learn, wrongly, that they need the approval of every subject they interview or quote" they would never pass 11th grade american history.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalton_School

     

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  26.  
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    Daltonian, Nov 13th, 2009 @ 11:26am

    Re: re: Who Left That Banana Peel

    This is nonsense. A ton of Daltonians are the children of federal judges. Dalton was most certainly not intimidated; it used something called 'tact' and 'good judgment' in an effort to get more speakers like this. While I was there we had a ton of amazing speakers, congressmen, famous writers, successful business executives, journalists, judges...

     

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