Jeffrey wrote:There is no such thing as a general constitutional right not to have other individuals "interfere" with your speech or expression.
Gotta disagree, the government has an obligation to protect speech from interference such as assault and threats of violence and it's done daily in this country. Cops regularly provide security for marches and political demonstrations, to protect that speech from interference from other individuals.
I would agree with you guys ten or twenty years ago but nowadays internet access is more of a utility as Famspear implied. Try filling out job applications without an e-mail for example. The "fairness doctrine" case also applies here given that the internet is a government subsidized and government regulated platform. Plus the right to " impart information and ideas through any media" is already recognized in Article 19 of the UN declaration of human rights, even if it's a private entity doing it, it's still a violation of Stormfront's human rights to do this.
Not to mention that the basis of the denial of service is arbitrary here, there's no intellectually consistent way of justifying denying Stormfront a forum that wouldn't equally apply to dozens of other political groups.
And more broadly, the strict literalist interpretation of the first amendment misses the point. It's not a principle that's limited to government, it's a broader concept that is central to american life that allows republicans and democrats and whatever else to live in the same neighborhood without descending into sectarian violence. Protecting the "free flow of ideas" isn't just a government responsibility, it's a public responsibility of citizens.
I understand that you disagree, but you're incorrect as a matter of law.
The example of cops providing security for marches and political demonstrations is not an example of a First Amendment Constitutional right to free speech with respect to protection from interference from other individuals. It's an example of cops doing their job to maintain order.
Whether a particular benefit is considered a utility or not might be determinative in deciding whether an individual has some sort of limited statutory or regulatory right to access to that benefit -- but such a right, if any, is not a constitutional right.
The "fairness doctrine" (whatever that may be) to which you refer is not the Fairness Doctrine to which I was referring which was something that existed in statutory, regulatory or case law with respect to TV and radio broadcasting some years ago. There is no such legal doctrine (that I know of) with respect to the internet.
The fact that the right to "impart information and ideas through any media" might be recognized in Article 19 of the UN declaration of human rights, even if it's a private entity doing it, does not create a legal Constitutional right under the law of the United States. And, no, I seriously doubt that it is a violation of Stormfront's "human rights" under the UN declaration for a private internet provider to refuse to sell web space to Stormfront.
And, no, the strict literalist interpretation of the First Amendment does not miss the point. And, yes, free speech IS a principle limited to freedom from interference by the government.
I agree that protecting the free flow of ideas might be some sort of amorphous "public responsibility" or "moral" duty that burdens all of us as private individuals, but that is not the same thing as a LEGAL obligation -- and from the standpoint of the "speaker," it's definitely not the same as a constitutional right.
In the United States, legal obligations and rights, whether from the U.S. Constitution, from common law, from statutes, from treaties and other international law, from regulations, or from the case law arising from judicial interpretations of all these, do not arise merely because of a common sense of fairness. Law is objectively knowable. Law can be studied and learned. Law as it exists is not always a matter of what we believe it should be.