Adler: Freedom of the press: the essential foundation of democracy

When the U.S. Supreme Court, in Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia (1980), in the words of Justice John Paul Stevens, “squarely held that the acquisition of newsworthy matter is entitled to constitutional protection,” it was protecting under the First Amendment’s Free Press Clause the essential foundation of our democracy.

The conception of the press as a pillar of strength for a free people who mean to govern themselves is as old as the republic itself. In 1765, in his acclaimed treatise, “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law,” a youthful John Adams wrote: “Liberty cannot be preserved with...


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