Whenever President Trump criticizes the press, whether in tweet or in a statement, I see a chorus of commentators rising to condemn him for his attack on freedom of the press. I would grant that it is fair to argue that Trump’s statements may be inappropriate, obnoxious, counter-productive, distracting or unpresidential, but is it an attack on freedom of the press?
Freedom of the press is the right of the press to say pretty much anything it wants. For the government to attack freedom of the press, it must attempt to stop someone from publishing or it must punish someone for their publications by throwing them in jail or taking some other harsh measure. Hurting their feelings doesn’t count. Just as the press has the constitutional right to criticize the president, the president has the constitutional right to criticize the press.
This reminds me of a story that my parents used to tell about me when I was a little boy. I have no memory of this, but I trust my parents that this is true. I had been in a fight, and my father asked me who started the fight. I said, “He did. He hit me back!” The press is whining because the president hit them back.
In short, these statements that Trump is attacking the freedom of the press are flat out ridiculous. This should be obvious whether you love Trump or whether you hate Trump. Will the media ever realize when they make such absurd statements, they lose credibility for whatever valid criticisms they might make? I doubt it.
The Supreme Court by a unanimous vote has let the Trump travel ban stand for everybody who has not had a prior relationship in the United States. They will take up the case again in October. Based on this initial ruling, it seems extremely likely that the travel ban will be upheld.
I just wanted to focus on one key argument made by the courts in overturning the travel ban. They stated while the current ban is not on its face a Muslim ban that President Trump called for a Muslim ban during his campaign, so the current ban is really a disguised Muslim ban. Whether you are a supporter or opponent of this ban, I think it is important to contemplate the repercussions of this argument if it was withheld.
Basically, what the lower courts are saying is that if at any time a president stated a desire to do something unconstitutional, but after receiving good advice instead make what a constitutional proposal, the new proposal should be deemed unconstitutional because he or she really wanted to do something unconstitutional. In short, once the president stated something improperly, the president could never change his or her mind and do something properly.
This ridiculous logic could be taken further. If you ever considered taking an illegal tax deduction, but changed it to make it legal, then you could go to jail because you really wanted to do something illegal.
I would hope that even an opponent of the travel ban can see the absurdity of this position. Even the four liberal judges appear to have rejected this argument. It will be very interesting to see the full, final ruling in the next Supreme Court session.