Why First for a Reason?

First for a reason.  First among equals.  The First Amendment exemplifies these concepts, because the First Amendment provides the foundation on which the next nine provisions of the Bill of Rights rest and depend.

Consider the recent allegations here in North Carolina that guards in the Department of Corrections have abused prisoners, required them to put hot sauce on their skin and forced them to abuse one another.  The fundamental charge is that the condition of their confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth Amendment.  There is even a lawsuit pending.  But the lawsuit got no real public attention – and the issues got no public condemnation – until a series in the Charlotte Observer brought the accusations fully to light. http://tinyurl.com/Observer-Wrong-Side

Many Americans probably learned their Miranda rights (Fifth Amendment) not from a civics class or poli sci text but from watching arrests in movies or old episodes of Law & Order.

Even the National Rifle Association depends upon the First Amendment to get out their Second Amendment message.  The NRA spends $291 million a year, which in part pays for speech-based activities such as advertising, lobbying, litigation and communicating with their members.

The First Amendment gives life and meaning to the full Bill of Rights.  It is critical to our very democracy, providing that as a people can be informed about what matters.  Without the First Amendment protections for free speech and press, freedom to associate, to assemble and to petition the government, many other freedoms would languish.

First for a Reason will explore contemporary issues that flow from the First Amendment, as well as satellite issues such as government transparency, the impact and regulation of social media and intellectual property.  We will strive to be engaging and educational, sometimes thought-provoking and perhaps even funny from time-to-time.

If you have a question you’d like answered or a topic to suggest for discussion, email First@smvt.com.  If you would like to know when we update First for a Reason, just send an email with “subscribe” in the subject line.

Welcome to First for a Reason:  Info & Ideas on the First Amendment & Media Law.

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