Every once in a while, the unbiased application of consistent principles and values such as those embodied in the First Amendment requires an honest columnist to defend the rights even of those with whom he fervently disagrees. I’ve done so plenty of times in the past, such as when I said that Trump-allied Republicans Roger Stone (whom I have disliked from afar for more than three decades) and Gen. Michael Flynn were unlawfully mistreated by the FBI/Justice Department even though I thought both were guilty. Well, here are two columns on a First Amendment issue in which I absolutely detest the position of the school official whose rights I nevertheless defend.

(Links to full column are embedded in each headline.)

School chief in transgender rape case lied, but is that a criminal offense? (Dec. 12):  The First Amendment applies even to low-life liars.

For that reason, one of the criminal counts against Scott Ziegler, the school superintendent of Loudoun County, Virginia, probably ought to be dismissed, and the Virginia statute on which it is based probably should be declared unconstitutional…. The first count is problematic. It alleges that he committed the misdemeanor of “false publication,” which aims to punish “any person who knowingly and willfully” gives a “false or untrue statement” to a member of the media for purposes of publication or broadcast. On its face, this statute appears unconstitutional. It almost surely violates the free speech protections of the First Amendment….If this law stands, then every time a politician shades the truth to a reporter, he would face the possibility of jail time. So, too, for every athlete who has contempt for an opponent but who tells a sports columnist that of course he respects the adversary….

Professor Volokh agrees on the First Amendment issue (Dec. 13):  A major First Amendment expert agrees that someone probably should challenge the constitutionality of a Virginia statute now in the news….


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