Jack Flanagan’s bill to compel speech had a hearing yesterday and the New Hampshire media rose to the challenge. Jack, based on the reporting, stuck to his guns (that’s a figure of speech), but the Press had their say. HB 1157 violates the first amendment.
And it does!
Calling a bill unconstitutional, the New Hampshire media came out in force Wednesday to oppose legislation that would require them to immediately update criminal stories online whenever charges are dropped, or the defendant is acquitted.
On Christmas day, I delivered this gift on the topic.
The state will not empower individuals to threaten me for refusing to change a story that, when printed, was factually correct or compel my speech to update, correct, amend, or retract, that opinion or reporting, or to write a new article clarifying the outcome.
And the state will not empower anyone to command me to write it.
Essential points we’ve covered that came up at the hearing include but are not limited to, the printed stories will never get changed (nor their searchable archived online images). Out of state media that picks up local stories are not required to comply with HB1157 (were it to become law), so those stories would still pop on search engines. Long story short, even if you ignore the unconstitutional nature of state compelled speech, given the nature of the internet, it accomplishes nothing it claims to intend. And,
Marissa Chase, representing trial attorneys across the state for the New Hampshire Association for Justice, said the bill would be an infringement on the Constitution.
You’d like to think lawmakers would see why this is a problem, especially Republicans, and as I noted in my original article, “I am very interested to see who among our legislators will support it.” The bill’s sponsor wasn’t the only Republican to support the bill.
Not speaking, but signing up in support of the bill were State Rep. Peter Torosian, R-Atkinson, Rep. Bob Greene, R-Hudson, and Rep. Linda Gould, R-Hudson.
Harking back to my original piece, yes, the bill is well-intentioned, but it still invites infringements on Constitutionally protected rights and, therefore must be opposed.
One final note. I’d like to thank the NH press for stepping up. As a working schlub, I will rarely be able to make time to testify at hearings. This humble space is my medium, and while we have more online reach than the majority of the traditional New Hampshire media, sometimes you have to show up to make a statement.
Whatever differences we may have we all agree on the need to defend the first amendment and a free press regardless of source or intention. When we don’t you’ll be hearing from us here.