Kennedy speech, press rulings are unequivocal

US Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Anthony Kennedy has upheld free speech and press rights in a number of key cases. Among them: Libel. In rejecting an emotional distress-defamation claim by a citizen against a municipal officer, he criticized the comments as in bad taste but said that ``in some instances speech must seek its own refutation without intervention by the courts'' (Koch v. Goldway, 1987).

Prior restraint. In a matter involving a criminal litigation, he vacated a lower court's order that a network turn over a TV film for court viewing before air time, writing that it ``is a fundamental principle of the First Amendment that the press may not be required to justify or defend what it prints or says until after the expression has taken place'' (Goldblum v. NBC, 1978).

Court access. Ordering a lower court to unseal documents for press viewing, he stressed the right of access of the public and press to criminal proceedings. Judge Kennedy said that ``public examination, study, and comment is essential if the corrections process is to improve.'' (CBS Inc. v. US District Court, 1985).

Free speech. In a case involving the conviction of an individual who counseled others to file false tax returns, Judge Kennedy said a jury might have found that some of the defendant's speech was abstract and remote from advice to commit a specific criminal act. Such expression, he ruled, is protected under the First Amendment unless both the intent of the speaker and the tendency of his words was to produce or incite a criminal act. (US v. Freeman, l985)

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.