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…

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Teaches Wrong Lesson On Freedom Of The Press”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Coughing Monkey (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"..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 “”.


Brad Morrison (profile) says:

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.

Daltonian says:

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…

Daltonian says:

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.

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.

Former Dalton Kid says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...