First Amendments Rights: Should They Apply to Everyone?

Yesterday, a commentary by Thomas Peele took to task Supreme Court Justice Kennedy for requesting prior review of an article that would have been published in the student newspaper at the Dalton School in New York. Peele says that despite Kennedy's support for First Amendment rights for all members of the press, he has violated those rights by requesting a review of student work prior to publication. Peele also questions the integrity and motives of the student reporters who failed to put up an adequate fight on the issue.

One possible reason for this alleged lack of 'fight' might be that a recent study found that most students, indeed most Americans, believe that First Amendment rights as they have been traditionally held, could harm the country.

Read Peele's commentary here, then leave a comment on your thoughts on First Amendment rights. Though your comment does not have to be long, I want to see evidence of thoughtful contemplation on First Amendment rights and student journalists.

  1. Read the commentary linked above. Please feel free to do additional reading on the First Amendment.
  2. Write a thoughtful comment and post it here. If you have your own blog or Tumblr, you may post there, then leave a comment here with a link to your blog post. Please feel free to read the comments of others and respond to the words of your classmates.
  3. Please use the following naming convention to make sure that you are correctly identified. Joe Schmoe in A period would leave his name as JoeS A.
  4. Please check back to make sure that your comment is there.
  5. You will have until the end of lunch on Tuesday, December 1 to leave your comment.

60 comments:

Tracy said...

What Justice Kennedy did was hypocritical and unacceptable. Whatever reasons he had for doing so, such as if he was trying to ensure the accuracy of his quotes, he still should have known better than to ask for prior review from those two school publications. So much for being a champion of First Amendment rights. He needs to start following his own rules and stop thinking he can avoid consequence for not doing so.

Crystal said...

As a supreme court justice, Kennedy should personally understand how to interpret and decipher the first amendment. If a supreme court justice requests a prior review of an article does this mean that the first amendment no longer applies to the supreme court justices? Kennedy knew that he was defying the first amendment, yet he still asked for the prior review.

Louisa said...

Justice Kennedy is definitely abusing his power on innocent and vulnerable students. As an official of the court, Justice Kennedy should have known better than to ask for prior review from students. He should remember the First Amendment by heart by now.

However, I do not completely blame Kennedy. I also have the same question Peele presented: why weren't the students and advisers at the Dalton school informed in their First Amendment rights? I am sure that when Justice Kennedy asked to have pre-published review of his quotes the students hesitated to give it to them. If they were informed, they would not have even hesitated. If the public and the media accepted prior review, then the truth behind issues and stories may never get out accurately. Even if those concerned in each story do not trust the staff behind it, the students should conduct their business and complete their publication with the utmost integrity and honesty. They should trust that the First Amendment will protect them.

nicholas said...

He (Supreme Justice Kenedy) is an all-around bad person for buting into those student newspapers. I cant see why he would do thast. There just kids. It's not llike they were some big time jounalist out to get him. he violated their first amandment rights.In my opinion, thats just plain UNAMERICAN.

nicholas said...

*i messed up I meant (that) and (they're)

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darlena said...

Kennedy's hypocritical actions show just how insecure he is about his public image. If he is confident in his own beliefs and actions, he should not have any need to review pre-publications. What bothers me most is that this man is a member of the Supreme Court; he is in a position of power. Also, everyone should take advantage of the First Amendment, not just journalists. I think it's kind of ironic how there are people in other countries who wish their voices could be heard, but here in the US where we have that freedom and protection, we take it for granted.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

The first amendment protects the right of free speech, this is indeed true. It is also true that laws should not infringe upon this irrefutable right. However, there should be some limit to free speech: a self-imposed one. While it is healthy, and encouraged to express one's opinion on an issue, it should be expressed in a well-thought out manner, or with a calm demeanor. An example would be "I believe X, because of Y. This is my opinion. I believe I'm right, but I could be wrong." Saying you're right, and everyone else is wrong limits their freedom of speech, which defeats the purpose of this right in a sense. Calling someone names along the line of "Doody-head" without any evidence also does not help a situation. Any corrections or rebuttals to this statement are encouraged.

Brittany said...

Just because Kennedy is Supreme Court Justice, it does not mean he is that special. He still must comply with the same laws as everyone else. Kennedy poses as a bad role model, leaving the public with a negative impression of the government. Although he is clearly setting a bad example, the school's Journalism advisor is also to blame. He should have defended the students' rights. Whether it was because he was uninformed or intimidated, he should have taken a stand. In the Journalism class, the students who wrote the article also should have had some idea about First Amendment rights. If it was Kennedy's second offense, someone should have taken note of the first time and further looked into the case. -BrittanyI 5

Chloe said...

For such a blown up and controversial right in American society to be violated by one of our own Supreme Court justices is disappointing and shameful to our societal and national image. Justice Kennedy is not only taking advantage of unknowing student journalists and his position of power, but also acting as a hypocrite of, fundamentally, his own rules. Additionally, Kennedy's need to review articles before publication shows he is hoping to restrict his public image only to what he approves of--a sign of insecurity, if anything--, and in essence, is censoring student journalism, which is under all circumstances, unacceptable.

- ChloeL A

Donovan said...

Today image is everything. I can understand Supreme Court Justice Kennedy's actions, but that also doesn't mean that they are right. If I was put in Kennedy's shoes I would probably do the same. I mean the students or school didn't have a problem with it so why stop? One thing can mess up a reputation in this world and it's not easy for people to let go once an action has taken place or something is said. The first amendment rights should apply to everyone, however there was no complaints on the issue. It is kind of weird that he is the one to do this, since he is the one that is all about the first amendment rights and protecting them. However, almost everyone will protected themselves first before they think of others.

Breaunna said...

Honestly, this was a ridiculous situation. It's ridiculous and hypocritical that Justice Kennedy asked for prior review. IT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. PERIOD! AND KENNEDY SHOULD KNOW THIS! I don't care who you are, or what you said, NOBODY has the right to ask for prior review just because they think they have the power to do it. You said it, and now you must face the consequences of what you said. However, I'm more appalled with the journalist advisors. How are they supposed to teach students about the importance of their journalistic rights, especially the First Amendment,when they can't even protect their own rights? It's even worse that these teachers simply handed over their rights. THEY DIDN'T EVEN FIGHT BACK! WHO DOES THAT?! Both Kennedy and this teacher are setting a bad example for future politicians and future student journalists. They are suppose to be OUR role-models. F.Y.I. they're not doing a very good job at it. BreaunnaE A

Chris Mendoza said...

I think Justice Kenndy's prior review is unacceptable considering he subjected the entire article to correction. Him fixing a quote is even unjust,its not misleading if those are his words, yet it is understandable if he had trouble getting his point across which he shouldn't really. If this was the case he should have commented to the author about what his real intent was, however any correction is belieing the very essence of the first amendment. This man has studied law and is old enough to stand on his to feet, he should thus be a role model and a true protector of journalism and these rights but this is Washington so its his nature no to protect HIS reputation and image.

Banpreet said...

Supreme Court justice, Kennedy, showed hypocritical and a let down behavior towards the First Amendment, when in fact he was “generally considered to be a friend of the First Amendment.” He invaded the rights of the students when he asked for a review of the article. It is not suppose to be that way, it is the right of free press that allows the students to go out and do journalism without any restrictions. What Kennedy did was wrong and unlawful.

- BanpreetB A

colby said...

Justice Kennedy had no right to check over the reviews before they were published. As a justice, he should be familiar with the Amendments and to go against the first? He is a major hypocrite on the matter because he openly supported the First Amendment before. For professional journalists, he does not ask them to review but for student journalists, he does. He should just realize student journalists apply the same way to the First Amendment as any other human in this world would.

Stacy Chan said...

This is the perfect example to illustrate how one decision can go awry once a politican's hypocritical nature and self-interest are mixed together.

Let's face it: reputation is valuable to all, including politicans. But, seriously... once you go against your word (and beliefs), your actions just magnify how great of a fool you really are.

Kimmy said...

According to Thomas Peele, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is generally considered to be a friend of the First Amendment, but with Kennedy's recent actions, apparently he is not. He has no right to walk into a school and review the pre-publications of his speeches. The First Amendment clearly states that "congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," and Kennedy violated this law. Kennedy's actions were hypocritical because his previous speeches included the First Amendment and how it applies to every being. Kennedy needs to realize that the First Amendment is relevant to everyone, and that includes students.
-KimmyN A

Terilyn said...

Obviously, Justice Kennedy has done something terribly, terribly wrong. In a nation where people take pride in their so-called "freedom," this censorship (issued by a Supreme Court justice!) is appalling. Frankly, it's rather embarrassing.
However, the journalism teacher who told the NY Times that Kennedy's request for a pre-read was even more disturbing. Supreme court justice should be an example for students and so should teachers. It just suddenly seems worse to me that a teacher would throw away First Amendment rights because I suppose government officials have always seemed "iffy" to me.
-TerilynC A

simaran said...

United States was laid out on the foundations of the gov't not "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." However, what Justice Kenndey did went againist this belief. He took the freedom of the students away when he requested a prior review of an article. He considers himself a true follower of the First Amendment rights, but if he was a true believer then he would not have done this unconsitutional act. If the officials refuse to follow their own rules, then why should the rest of us follow them? Why did they create the rules int he first place if they were going to disobey them. We can't call ourselves a nation of freedom anymore.

-SimaranB A

Julia Maniquiz! said...

What is entirely evident after coming into acquaintance with the facts of this event is the hypocrisy behind Justice Kennedy's actions. One should not involve himself in the creation of rules he does not intend to uphold. From a journalistic standpoint, however, the more controversial issue is the students' all too compliant behaviors. There is no such a thing as prior restraint in journalism - at least not in TRUE journalism. The First Amendment was created to ensure journalists, their opinions and their words, were protected. The staff of the GWU and Dalton newspapers failed to stand by these journalistic principles. As Thomas Peele so insightfully pointed out, "Reporters are not subordinate to power." We are protected. We have our rights. We have our codes of conduct - which, one might point out, are protected under the First Amendment, applicable to all. And so we must fight to protect and adhere to our beliefs.

Stephanie said...

Justice Kennedy has violated the very rights upon which the United States was founded. His requests for pre-publication reviews of his speeches were clearly unconstitutional and therefore substantially hypocritical. Kennedy should have obeyed the rules--freedom of the press--that he, as a Supreme Court justice, essentially helped create. Such hypocrisy he has committed indicates a growing feature of our nation’s government: self-interest and image. Congratulations, judicial branch: you’ve reached a historic low.

rachel said...

I dont blame Kennedy for wanting to know what the students wrote about him. However, that is his curiosity alone, and he was no right to see the article before publication. I know Kennedy, as a Supreme Court justice, knows better than to do so. I feel as though he's scared that the students might have written something "inappropriate" or "unsatisfactory" about him. But for him alone to get the blame is not fair. The students should have exercised their rights and said no. Although it is technically Kennedy's fault for asking, it was the students' blame for following through without a fight.

Savanna said...

Justice Kennedy's hypocritical actions are unfair and abuse his power. The first amendment applies to every one, why should the Supreme Court Justice get special rights? He shouldn't have asked for prior reveiw of the news publication because it is illegal, simple as that. If he can get away with that then what does that say about the political and social aspect of the United States?

Aundrea said...

I think it was wrong for Kennedy to completely over look the first amendment. He was wrong in checking the student reviews before they were published.Of course First Amendment Rights should apply to everyone, and the fact that Kennedy went against previous years of support of the article tells us he thinks he is better. He still has to follow the rules.

Wendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samson Tong said...

Supreme court Justice Kennedy is a hypocrite for his actions. He should have deciphered the first amendment in a way that everyone agrees upon. Misinterpreting such a law is only harmful to the public and does not reveal it's true meaning. Knowing he misunderstood, Kennedy ignored his mistake.

Sheralynn said...

Justice Kennedy violated the First Amendment by reviewing the material printed about him before publication. The fact that a Supreme Court Justice is a hypocrite against the Constitution of the country he was chosen to serve justice in is appalling. It's even worse that after he was exposed, he tried to quiet the media and cover it up. "'The Supreme Court's public information office has asked to approve any quotes you use from the justice's speech,' a university public relations staffer e-mailed to student reporters. The justice told the Journal that when he reviewed the Dalton story, he thought its author had voluntarily sent it to him to verify his quotes." The very fact that he is a Supreme Court Justice should firmly establish that he does not have privileges and he should follow the law as he enforces on others.

Leah said...

Kennedy is a supreme court justice, however, that does not give him the right to manipulate young journalists. As a justice, he should better understand the importance of the First Amendment. Kennedy had no right to view the article before publication, though viewing a few quotes would be understandable. He is obviously concerned about how he is viewed by the public, which explains his inappropriate actions.

Stephanie said...

Kennedy's action proved to be unwanted. Asking for prior review from students is unacceptable and he should of had known the First Amendment thoroughly.

-Stephanie Chan

Beilul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

Justice Kennedy was wrong for asking for prior publications of the two schools newspapers whether or not he asked for them, or his security guards asked for them. He abused his privileges, and as a supreme court justice, he should have known better than to make such actions as these and ignore the First Amendment.Either way, his actions are inexcusable and unacceptable.

Carla said...

Justice Kennedy's actions are definitely inexcusable, no matter what he says. He should have know better than to ask for previews of articles about him prior to publication. I agree with Thomas Peele when he mentioned that just because Justice Kennedy is an official of the court does not make it right for him to completely overlook the First Amendment rights of journalism. He is no one special, and just like us, he must follow the rules. This is hypocrisy at its best.

Beilul said...

Legally, all citizens of the United States of America, have the right to freedom of press and freedom of speech, however, often when it pertains to students, these rights are ignored. This obvious double standard was brought to light by none other than one of the highest law officials in our nation. Justice Kennedy was clearly in the wrong for requesting a prior view of the students article but the students and faculty at the school were also slightly in the wrong by not sticking up for themselves.

-BeilulN A

Jennifer D said...

When asking on a pre-publication review on his past two speeches, Justice Kennedy only shows that he is 'insecure' about his public appearance and therefore he finds it necessary to make such an absurd request.

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy is definitely being extremely hypocritical. The first amendment protects the freedom of speech for everyone, meaning Justice Kennedy must follow the same laws.

Sabrina said...

I have a theory that the media is filtered through the government. The government will try to disclose information that they do not want to leak to the public. Justice Kennedy proves that the government believes they are above everyone else and could filter, through reviewing pre-publication, news that journalists report. By attacking student journalists with violation of the first amendment, and the students complying with it, shows the corruptive habits of the next journalists. So when these students make it professionally, they will alredy be familiar with the government having an influence on the media they report.
SabrinaS_A

Wendy said...

How ironic that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was being regarded as one of the court’s most attentive defenders of First Amendment values, would violate the First Amendment and asked for a pre-publication review from the Dalton High School and George Washington University. It was so depressing that Justice Kennedy, who agree free press, would act against his words. It was more depressing that these young journalists "didn't put up any fight." Therefore, Justice Kennedy should not take all the responsibilities. I had a thought that when the young journalists were being asked for an review, they might omit or cut some offensive wordings, so as to praise Justice Kennedy. On the other hand, Justice Kennedy, who possesses power and high status, might require the journalists to make some changes. With all these disguises and corrections, the article will surely lack facticity and ignore the goal of media--reporting the truth.
WendyC A

katie said...

Justice Kennedy's actions were wrong in every way possible. He took the "power" he had into the wrong areas and was being hypocritical about the whole situation, including the first ammendment and his reviews.

Cathie said...

Sounds like Supreme Justice Kenedy is just abusing his "power." But being the Supreme Court Justice him of all people should KNOW what the First Amendment states, and how it applies to EVERYONE, there should be no double standards!!

Sadly, but true.. he might be able to avoid some consequences and receive a couple perks with the title he holds...

Joyce said...

I don't think anyone should have to write to "approve" what goes in the an article about them. People should generally be cautious of what they are saying and remember that, especially as public officials, they can be quoted anytime.

Eddy said...

With such a power like this, it's no surprise that someone would abuse it like so. Rules can be broken, but this seems like a big rule that everyone has to follow. Meh, the government likes to mask their mistakes. Again, it's no surprise.

Jordan said...

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy is a dork. He of all people should know that asking for a prior review is illegal. The first amendment protects the freedom of speech and freedom of press. Being a "friend" of the first amendment, he should know this. I guess he was trying to protect his image or something by wanting to see what the students were saying about him. Still, being such an important person in government, he should be setting an example by following the law

Katherine said...

Honestly, this is ridiculous that Kennedy doesn't abide by his OWN rule. This IS a violation of the First Amendment as everyone has their own freedom of speech. He has NO RIGHT to ask for the paper prior to its publication and he has no right to discredit the papaer afterward. The article was not slandering or offensive. I also think the teacher should be a little bit more responsible when examining the first amendments rights for her students. She should have known that this was not violating their rights.

Courtney Mariano said...

CourtneyM 2--

Although I understand US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's concern and desire to review the stories before publication, he should not be able to violate the First Amendment. This was created to protect journalists, and the line should not be crossed no matter what circumstances. He, however, is not the only person to blame. The advisor at Dalton should not have complied with the requests, and instead should have fought for the journalists' rights.

reneechen92 said...

The school newspaper provides a platform for possible opinions and thoughts to be discussed within the school members. However, the action of the Supreme Court justice posed a threat toward the student journalist in their freedom of press. The pre-publication review will absolutely block the truth and real happenings of a particular incident that no one will ever know if they have not been told. As a part of the United States, Judge Kennedy is therefore subjected to the 1st amendments and it applies to everyone.

athena said...

Supreme Justice Kennedy is a control freak with only permitting student interviews and not any professional reporters. His decision to control and edit and view the article before hand to make sure that all the quotes are correct does in fact violate the First Amendment. With him or his people viewing the article, they could possibly change the meaning of the quotes they were viewing. I think it is also ridiculous that the school didn't try to fight back. It is understandable if they were fearful of losing against the bigger, more powerful, richer judge but the fact that the principal didn't find anything wrong with the request makes them completely submissive and seems that they are unknowing of their rights. Justice Kennedy needs to take responsibility for his actions instead of saying that he didn't request but his secretary did instead. He needs to focus on interpreting the law rather than reinterpreting what people are saying about him.
AthenaB2

Kimberly said...

Justice Kennedy should know better, as an official of the court, that he was violating the first amendment. He is a representative of our government, and how he acts to the youth is how the youth will portray our government.

Giselle said...

If he indeed was not aware that his office requested prior review, then he has poor control of his office. How can he be a Supreme Court Justice trying to uphold the law when he can't even take care of his employees?

Of course the First Amendment should apply to everyone. You can't pick and choose, or else nobody would be protected. It's just a simple case of hypocrisy, irresponsibility, and abuse of power.

Fiona said...

Noted as a high figure, Justice Kennedy should naturally remember and abide by the First Amendment. It is nearly shameful for him to "stretch the rules" to satisfy himself, rather than the people.

Citizens of the United States are lucky to possess the freedom of speech as other people in other countries do not have the same rights. The freedom to speak should be applied to everyone as a human right.

Justice Kennedy chose to believe in this First Amendment, as well as to live to it, and so, he should trust his own beliefs, rather than requesting review to student journalistic works prior to publication. It's the students words and students have the right to say whatever they want, whenever they want.

Patrick said...

I think Justice Kennedy is an idiot who is taking advantage of his power. If he's going to be going through school newspapers he should go through regular ones too. There's something called the "first amendment". By now he should know the entire constitution by heart, if not they should kick him out of his job for being inadequate for the work. Just because he's 'special' doesn't mean he has more power then other people.

Joseph said...

Justice Kennedy abuses his power to take advantage over student journalist because he is scared that the children will report about something he would not like to be reported on. He probably knows the what the first amendment claims, but he acts like the law as if it were a rule. Justice Kennedy is definitely a hypocrite due to the fact he is bias against student journalist and professional.

Haley K. said...

The Constitution clearly states "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peacably to assemble..." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy should know his actions are completely hypocritical and unwise. I understand his concerns, for no one would like to be misinterpreted. However, he needs to realize journalists have a responsibility to report the facts, so all of his insecure thoughts must diminish. His job isn't to save him self from public scrutiny, but to protect the poeple and their rights. Honestly, these students are being denied their natural rights and it needs to stop.

HaleyK 5

Henry said...

Although this article is seemingly correct in calling the Justice a hypocrite, it also leaves some important questions and information unanswered. This article does bring up some good points but some crucial facts still remain. The article makes it very clear that the Justice asked to see the article and was given permission without any trouble. The article also mentions it is acceptable for someone to see how their quotes are being used. Maybe this was the case. It is the Justice’s words after all. Although it was somewhat wrong to ask for the entire article, the schools did not argue with him and thus had no reason to go any further. In many ways the schools have done more wrong than the justice by not saying no.

A_Yueming_W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A_Yueming_W said...

Honestly, I don't think this should be such a big issue. It's true that what Justice Kennedy did violate the student journalists' First Amendment right. The media portrays Kennedy as a man who took advantage of his authority to do something that was clearly unjustified, but was that really what he did? Perhaps he just wanted to make sure there were no miscommunication. People need to look at things from both perspectives. If you think about it, the laws in this country are made to be flexible, in order to fit a constantly evolving race of people. If we were to enforce the laws directly with no interpretation, then Lincoln's act of suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus would indeed be considered a federal crime since he abused his presidential powers. Although some people believe this was a rather controversial act, many people also believe that it was necessary at the time. Point is, people should look at things from both sides and be open minded.

alec said...

There has been much talk about the U.S. supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and how he represents the ideal hypocritical and unwise person trying to cover himself up from public humiliation. He simply stated that he believes that the First Amendment rules supreme and that no one should go against it. However, Kennedy does go against it and therefore is a hypocrite. Through his questioning of the young high school journalist, who was allegedly trying to just report direct facts, Kennedy was trying to manipulate the young writer. Kennedy should rather take full responsibility for his role as the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, follow the First Amendment and not try to cheat his way out of the laws that he and his nation abides by.

Jen said...

Peele's opening words could not be truer. Hypocracy is generally common,yet it is a tragedy to see it so plagues the highest judges of our country. Though this issue may not be as big as it is made out to be, it could escalate to another level. Where do you draw the line? oday its suppressing student journalists, and tommorrow it could be an issue with infinitely more significance to the countrry. Hypocrisy is an ugly monster, and no one should fall prey to its jaws, especially those who hold power.

Christopher said...

Yes, the First Amendment Rights should apply to citizens of the United States of America. Shocking isn't it? Apparently, some citizens, ironically a U.S Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, has violated that right by censoring some information he gave in an article that was written by student journalists. That is hypocritical and wrong for violating the first amendment. What does this mean for all the other Americans who believe in our amendment rights? Perhaps this foolish act will make them believe they can do the same.

Davidson said...

The supreme court justice Kennedy action of asking asking for prior view of students opinions is inexcusable. He should know especially one of his high stature the rules to abide by in the first amendment.

sarina said...

Sarina Curtis
*I apologize that this is late but I was absent and unaware of the assignment.

I think that its very injust and not right that an individual with high power would take advantage of thier high status to bend the rules. The Bill of Rights was made to set the the rules for the American society and were not meant to be broken. However, many high position people such as Justice Kennedy use their power to change the way thing are supposed to be. Rule and regulations are not meant to be changed there meant to stay...

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