Even if your practice does not involve the First Amendment, it’s important to understand and respect its importance to the Press

The premise is that lawyers play an essential role in a democracy. Democracy is based on the consent of the governed. Lawyers play a key role in seeing to it that most people manifest their consent by obeying the law. Consent of the governed must be earned. Government secrecy creates distrust. Distrust undermines the consent of the governed. The Press, in its many manifestations nowadays, is a key link between citizens and their government. If the government seeks to block the Press from publishing stories that embarrass the government or stories about national security, citizens will be left in the dark about how taxpayer money is being spent and how government power is being exercised, which is why James Goodale’s new book, Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles, is such an interesting and important book. I find reading “behind the scenes” stories of big cases fascinating. Beyond that Fighting for he Press describes how close the Nixon administration came to neutering a free Press. More disturbingly, Goodale points out how much the Obama administration has in common with the Nixon administration. Few lawyers practice First Amendment law, but all lawyers should have a passing familiarity with what is at stake when the government seeks to manipulate and block the Press, especially in the area of national security. Around the world, on a daily basis, government power is being exercised in the name of the American people. It is an open, but important question, how long before ignorance will undermine the consent of the governed. Goodale’s well written book is an important reminder of what is at stake and of how the Obama administration is aggressively attempting to keep national security information secret. Lawyers have a special obligation as citizens and as intermediaries between citizens and government to be familiar with First Amendment – Fress Press issues.  Goodale’s book is an enjoyable way for lawyers and others to be reminded of what’s at stake when government attempts to punish and pummel a Free Press.