Should Freedom of the Press be Limited to Protect National Security?
Every single American Citizen has their own rights and privileges, dating back to 1787 when the U.S. constitution was born. This was the first legal document stating citizen rights. Four years later, in 1791, the First Amendment was passed, stating several American citizen rights including Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Expression, the right to petition, and the right to assemble. Over the years to present day, these rights have been shifted to meet current standards. Although they are meant to benefit citizens, some of these freedoms bring up controversy. For example, many people consistently debate whether Freedom of the Press should be limited to protect National security.
The First Amendment, where U.S. citizen freedoms are written, states that, “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” (Fiorina). Freedom of the Press, a right stated in the First Amendment, “Protects the right to obtain and publish information or opinions without government censorship or fear of punishment…applies to all types of printed and broadcast material, including books, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, films and radio and television programs” (Freedom...). This amendment, adopted by the Bill of Rights in 1791, has had a unique history and has changed greatly over time. As stated, the freedom was made to let citizens write about whatever they wanted. However, the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 had an impact on freedom of the press. This act was the government’s way of trying to control what citizens were saying, especially limiting talk about the French Revolution. According to these Acts, it was a federal offense to, "write, utter or publish...any false, scandalous or malicious writing...against the government of the United States, or either house of Congress...or the President" (Applegate).This affected Freedom of the Press because it was conflicting the first amendment rights and it greatly restricted the freedoms at that time. The Sedition Act stayed a major concern in the United States for a long time and was constantly brought up in court cases.
During various wars, such as the Civil War, World War I and II, and the Vietnam War, Freedom of the Press became a conflict once again. In each of these wars, media reporters were either printing material that could harm Americans, or they were leaking false information. Technically this isn’t against the First Amendment, because they have the right to say anything they want. However, the government wants control over what these reporters are saying, and a limit on how much information can be released in order to assure the country’s safety. In the Civil War, and the World Wars,...