It was quite an evening as Paul Smith and Erin Murphy went back-and-forth in a lively exchange discussing the McCutcheon case, campaign financing law, and the First Amendment. Professor David Skover moderated as the two one-time case foes — Erin represented Shaun McCutcheon & Paul filed an amicus brief on the other side — debated the pros and cons of government regulation. In his own casual, confident, and witty way, Paul pushed his views while Erin took it all in stride, always calm, cautious, and pointed. The exchange took place at the Washington, D.C. offices of Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz (there was a live videocast feed to the firm’s New York office). This was the latest First Amendment salon. The discussion ranged from the technical to the philosophical as the two advocates and the discussants teased out various arguments. In the end, Smith and Murphy came together with big smiles and a firm handshake (the pair worked on the same side in the recently decided Aero case.)
Among others, the discussants included: Lee Levine, Benjamin Ginsberg, Laura Handman, James Swanson, Joel Gora, Adam Liptak, David Savage, Jess Bravin, Stephen Wermiel, Katherine Bolger, and Jeff Bowman (former AA to FEC Chairman Scott Thomas).
John Seigenthaler (1927-2014) — the Man Who Loved Light
“His commitment to the First Amendment was unflagging.” – Ken Paulson
“A champion of the First Amendment, giant of journalism, and a wonderful human being.” – Judy Woodruff
We lost John Seigenthaler last week — he was 86. I was privileged to have worked with John while I was at the Newseum’s First Amendment Center, first in Arlington, Va. and then in Washington, D.C. John founded the Center in 1991.
“John was . . . the first editorial page editor of the then-new USA TODAY in 1982, developing the most balanced opinion pages in the country. For every USA TODAY editorial there would be a countervailing view. John embraced light instead of heat.”
“He was fueled by his passion for the First Amendment, the sense that every voice has value. He liked to tell the story of a liberal woman who found conservative radio deeply offensive. He told her ‘whenever I want to hush Rush, I turn the knob.’ With a pained expression she responded, ‘Then I get G. Gordon Liddy.’ John would roar with each retelling.”
“In 1991 John retired from his newspaper role to found the First Amendment Center. It was a role he was born to. Long an advocate for the underdog, John was a passionate champion for the five freedoms that few Americans knew much about and inevitably took for granted.”
Gene Policinski, a friend who worked with John since 1981, offered this life assessment of his colleague: “John’s passion for the First Amendment was driven by a belief in equality and in the ‘marketplace of ideas.’ He had a lifelong commitment to the idea that this nation would not just endure but would prosper if its citizens could freely discuss, debate, and decide public issues without the burden of the heavy hand of government.” (see here, too)
→ For more about John and his remarkable life, see:
- Washington Post obituary
- New York Times obituary
- USA Today editorial
- “Remembering John Seigenthaler,” Newseum website
- James C. Duff, “We Have Lost a Champion for Freedom”
- Karen Dunlap, “John Seigenthaler was a leader of free speech, civil rights and journalism” (check out the nice video clip of John)
- Go here for a collection of photos of John.
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