commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

“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…

According to CNN, Jim Taricani of Rhode Island has been convicted of criminal contempt by US District Judge Ernest Torres, Chief Judge of the District of Rhode Island for refusing to reveal a source.

I guess some US District Judges feel that they can isolate themselves from their oath to support the Constitution by using a general charge like contempt and applying it to abridge the freedom of speech, and of the press. Judge Torres attempts to excuse his reasoning by quoting a divided Supreme Court decision involving a grand jury subpoena which mentions in part,

“these cases involve no intrusions upon speech or assembly, no prior restraint or restriction on what the press may publish,and . . . no penalty, civil or criminal, related to the content of published material.”

Of course, a source would not supply the information if they thought they’d be in trouble, and thus it involves prior restraint; and if the material that the special prosecutor wanted hadn’t been published, Mr. Taricani wouldn’t have been handed a criminal penalty for contempt. True and utter chutzpah on the part of the District Court, it would seem to me.

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