An abdication of the Press Clause reflects the most basic of analytical errors: It treats the text of the Press Clause as redundant and ignores the specialized functions that the Framers meant for the Press Clause to play. Failing to give the Press Clause constitutional recognition by declaring it too difficult to interpret or by dismissing it as "mere surplusage" is utterly at odds with our constitutional traditions. The Religion Clauses provide an example on how to give the text of the Press Clause true meaning.
In interpreting the Religion Clauses, the Supreme Court has taken a different attitude than it has with the Expression Clauses. Most notably, it did not find it necessary to deny one of the two clauses its potential power. To be sure, the path it forged is controversial. But controversy is hardly unique to the Court's constitutional interpretation. What is important is that the Court in dealing with the clauses has found it possible, indeed necessary, to view each interdependent provision as having important work to do. And so it should be with the Speech and Press Clauses.
Sonja R. West,
First Amendment Neighbors
, 66 Ala. L. Rev. 357
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1036