Twitter and the Freedom of Speech
“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
–First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
When James Madison authored the language that would become the First Amendment, he and his colleagues feared that the new federal government might enact legislation that would interfere with personal liberty. That fear was shared by many in the 13 states that had just ratified the Constitution. Indeed, five of the states conditioned their ratification on the addition of a Bill of Rights.
Madison — who had been the scrivener of the Constitution in 1787, was, by 1791, a member of the House of Representatives and the House’s resident expert on the Constitution — was designated by his colleagues as the drafter of the Bill of Rights.
Madison’s language in the First Amendment’s is clear; it only restrains Congress. Yet, recognizing the natural origins of the freedom of speech and aware of the universal governmental animosity to free speech, and taking account of the 14th Amendment’s imposition of due process upon the states, the courts expanded the scope of the First Amendment so as to impose its restraints upon all government — including the president, the judiciary, the states and their subdivisions.
During the Civil War and World War I, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson incarcerated folks for their speech and argued that the First Amendment only restrained Congress, not the president. Today, such an argument would be dismissed out of hand in any court.
Today, the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech from all government.
But the First Amendment o
Article from LewRockwell