US society lives in a time when neither the 4th amendment, nor the 1st amendment means anything to the government anymore, Constitutional Attorney and Author KrisAnne Hall said in RT’s In the NOW show.
On June 2 the Supreme Court rejected a bid by New York Times reporter James Risen not to testify at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling who is accused of disclosing classified information. Risen argued that he has a right to protect his sources' identity, either under the Constitution or rules governing criminal trials. The Supreme Court appeal came amid a debate over where to draw the line between national security and journalism freedom.
RT: The Supreme Court offered no explanation and only refused to overturn the lower court’s decision that Risen should testify against his source. Will he now have to give in or go to prison after years of fighting?
KrisAnne Hall: The real question here is what the impact on our 1st amendment is. If the Supreme Court can't even weigh in on an issue to protect the liberty of the people what kind of country do we actually live in? The Supreme Court has fundamentally said that the 4th circuit is right in saying that there is no 1st amendment testimonial privilege, whether absolute or qualified, siding with the Department of Justice who has made the argument that even if some states in the US believe that there is some sort of privilege, because there is no consensus among the courts, no such protection actually exists. These are violations of the fundamental principles of our 1st amendment. We do not have the 1st amendment to protect popular speech. We do not have the 1st amendment to protect us in criticizing our neighbors. The whole fundamental reason for the 1st amendment as established by the frameworks of our nation was so that we would be able to criticize and call out the government for eroded activity and be safe.
RT: Do you think we will see Risen testify against his source in court?
KH: He does have a choice. He can simply stand and make a stand for the 1st amendment as he should. Because his stand at this point is making the world know what state this country is actually in. If the country would like to overthrow liberty they would have to begin with free speech, because free speech is a frightening thing to tyrants. It is our duty and Risen, Snowden did what they should have done - you have to call out the government when they are trampling on our right.
RT: A Federal district judge did rule in 2011 that a criminal subpoena is not a free pass for the government to rifle through a reporter's notebook – is that what is happening here?
KH: They have to pay a price because that is the price of liberty? We have yet to sacrifice in this country for the liberty that has been gifted to us by generations of sacrifice. The history is replete with people who have said "I am not going to stand and give in to this tyranny anymore, I am actually going to stand because liberty is something that my child deserves, and whatever consequences may be, to me at least my stand may make a difference and secure liberties for my children." It is unfortunate that we have to make a sacrifice, but this is the point in time in society when we have a government that is actively denying our liberties. The 4th amendment means nothing to the government anymore, and the 1st amendment doesn't [mean anything either].
RT: Risen calls this a fight about the first amendment and freedom of the press claiming it would be impossible to work without being able to promise sources confidentiality. How true is that?
KH: I do believe this. [Imagine] if Risen just stepped back and said "I will give you everything," what he is doing is giving in to a tyrannical defeat of our 1st amendment and setting up further violations. Someone has to draw a red line. Somebody has to say "No more, it has to stop on my watch." Otherwise we will not have anything. What would we have if Snowden had not come forward and showed us what our federal government is doing to violate our 4th amendment? Risen is actually fundamentally calling out the government for their denial of our 1st amendment.
RT: Is there a danger for other journalist to fall into this precedent?
KH: So much has changed. There is a revolution of the minds of the people in America. I travel across the country and I teach our liberty to the American people. I taught 2065 times in 22 states last year, and I am seeing an amazing waking in the people. People want to know more about the 4th amendment; they want to know more about that limited government that was originally designed. And they are beginning to see, because the liberty is worth something and is something that we need to give to children, that standing is necessary. Just simply going along and compromising principles is detrimental to the very liberty and freedom that we believe America is great.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.