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Floyd Abrams Challenges Left, Right To Support Speech That Pains Them Ideologically in New Speaking Freely Opinion Paper
FOR RELEASE: March 10, 2009
Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
Arlington, Va., March 10, 2009 – Renowned First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams challenges both liberals and conservatives to be consistent, principled defenders of the First Amendment – even if it hurts – in a new opinion paper released today.
Abrams takes both sides to task for being First Amendment champions of their respective pet issues but not taking a First Amendment stance on other issues. Liberals, for example, tend to favor press rights to national security information while conservatives fight for unfettered political advertising, he says.
“Then there are issues in which the ideological foes change sides depending upon whose ox seems for the moment to be at risk of being gored,” Abrams writes. He notes, for instance, that the conservatives who now oppose a new Fairness Doctrine once invoked the doctrine freely to combat what they perceived then as liberal media bias.
Abrams’s paper, “First Amendment Deserves More Than Fleeting Friends,” is the latest in the Speaking Freely series published jointly by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, Va., and The Media Institute in Arlington, Va.
Abrams poses a telling question for the left: “What will the position of liberal America now be on campaign finance issues, after the Obama campaign revolutionized fundraising by using the Internet with enormous success to raise almost $750 million from nearly 4 million donors? ... The notion that campaign contributions are anything but potentially corrupting has never found favor on the left before. It will be interesting to see if it does now.”
“First Amendment Deserves More Than Fleeting Friends” is available from both organizations in hard copy and on their websites: www.tjcenter.org and www.mediainstitute.org.