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A closer look at the first two amendments to the Constitution

Bill of RightsSome recent events have made it an opportune time to take another look at the first two amendments to the Constitution.
Let's begin with the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the Constitution covers a great deal in very few words. Specifically it states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
If there is one word that is the most significant among the 44 words that comprise the amendment it is the word "Congress." The amendment is intended to prevent "Congress," and by Congress meaning the government, from enacting laws that would violate an individual's right to practice his or her religion or exercise his or her right to free speech, a free press, assembling peaceably, or petitioning the government.

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About enduring press freedom

Brian Karem at White House press briefingI walked slowly to my bunk and looked up at the television set. Twenty pairs of eyes were on the NBC Nightly News watching a story about me.
One man turned around and said, “Man, you famous.”
Since I was in jail at the time – for refusing to give up a confidential source – and wearing jail-issued underwear as well, this meant very little to me.
Fame is fleeting. Jail underwear sticks with you for a long time.
I thought about that yesterday when my smart phone started incessantly vibrating for several hours on end.

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Balancing the social media fix

 

gavel2 1 The Courts have made it clear that public employees do not give up all their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they make statements on matters in the public interest. However, those rights are balanced against the government’s interest in controlling the operation of its workforce. How these principles fit into today’s social media world was explored in an opinion last week from the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case called Kevin Patrick Buker v. Howard County.

The opinion indicates that Buker was battalion chief with the Howard County Fire Department, which in their chain of command placed him below the fire chief and his assistants and deputies. The Department in 2012 published social media guidelines, which prohibited personnel “from posting or publishing any statements, endorsements, or other speech…which could reasonably be interpreted to represent or undermine the views or positions of the Department…or interpreted as discriminatory, harassing, defamatory, racially or ethnically derogatory, or sexually violent” which may put the Department in disrepute of negatively impact its mission. The Department also adopted a Code of Conduct barring conduct through actions or words disrespectful to or undermining the Chain of Command.

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The case of the growling dog

Sean SpicerWhen approaching a growling dog wagging its tail, which end do you believe?
That’s the conundrum facing reporters in the White House press corps as the new administration works its way into a second month in office.
On the one hand we have a president calling the media the enemy while Tuesday press secretary Sean Spicer told assembled reporters the president has a “Deep respect for the First Amendment and the press.”

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Solving the "Fake News" problem

 

MC DC - Hillarys Behghazi MomentIn an interview with The Sentinel this week incoming U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen said one of the greatest concerns facing the country is the “Fake News” currently spreading virally like a pestilence across the land – aided and abetted by a President-elect who acts like Typhoid Mary by tweeting factually inaccurate information gobbled up by the electorate as a sugar-freak gobbles twinkies.

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Transparency? NOT!

 

censorshipOne of the leading cries heard by politicians from the local to the federal levels is how they are struggling hard to be “transparent” in their dealings with the public.
Don’t believe it. Not for one minute.

Last year this newspaper joined others in the state as some local politicians – under the guise of “cost cutting” decided cutting costs would mean cutting out local newspapers from certain revenue streams while at the same time allowing the local governments to post important notices on their own websites without the public’s involvement. It’s just the opposite of transparency, but if you say it often enough there’s the thought you can get most people to believe anything.
Luckily the measure failed.
Meanwhile we have some local politicians who – since the demise of The Gazette – continue to say there are no newspapers left in Montgomery County – despite the fact The Washington Post and The Montgomery County Sentinel both have a large presence in the county. We have been around 161 years and serve this county exclusively.
Again, it’s an excuse and attempt to demean the Fourth Estate.

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The First Amendment and you

The First Amendment to the Constitution covers a great deal in very few words. Specifically it states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

If there is one word that is the most significant among the 44 words that comprise the amendment it is the word "Congress". The amendment is intended to prevent "Congress", and by Congress, the government, from enacting laws that would violate an individual's right to practicing his or her religion or exercising his or her right to free speech, a free press, assembling peaceably, or petitioning the government.

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Congressional Candidates Support National Shield Law

  • Published in News

JK016739ROCKVILLE -- All nine candidates running in the 8th congressional district said they would support and sponsor a national shield law to protect journalists and their sources if they are elected to Congress.

During a debate hosted by the Montgomery County Sentinel Saturday at the Executive Office Building, state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) paraphrased a quote from former President Thomas Jefferson by saying, "If I had to choose between a government without a newspaper or a newspaper without a government, I would not hesitate a moment to choose the latter.'

"The newspapers, which are under tremendous heat and economic stress... are an essential public voice and watchdog in what takes place in corporate America," said Raskin. "Not only would I support it and will I support it, I've been supporting it. And I would absolutely sponsor it because the last thing reporters need is more judges and cops and prosecutors breathing down their necks."

State Del. Kumar Barve (D-17) added that he tells his friends and relatives in India that "we aren't free because we're rich.

"We're rich because we're free. And there's no way to be free unless you protect the fourth estate," he said.

For former news anchor Kathleen Matthews (D), the issue is personal.

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Registering politicians

Mike Pitts, a Republican – go figure – has introduced the South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law which would define what a journalist is and keep a list of those who are seen as responsible and penalize those no on the list with fines or imprisonment.

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