Priebus: Trump Could Amend Constitution to Abolish 1st Amendment

TeleSur | – –

A constitutional amendment to stem negative coverage of any administration would require a supermajority in both houses of Congress.

U.S. President Donald Trumps’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, announced Sunday that the administration is reviewing the country’s libel laws in a bid to prosecute journalists.

Priebus told ABC News’ This Week host Jonathan Karl that Trump was considering a possible constitutional amendment. “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at, and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story,” he added. “But when you have articles out there that have no basis or fact and we’re sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters.”

When challenged by Karl about the actual possibility of Trump suing media entities for stories he does not agree with, Priebus retorted, “Here’s the thing … I think that newspaper and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news.” Currently, the U.S. president’s hands are tied when it comes to taking any action regarding criticism from journalists because there are no federal libel laws.

Additionally, the state statutes are difficult to sue under. To win a libel case, a plaintiff must prove, without a doubt, that the defendant published a false and defamatory statement with malicious intent.

A constitutional amendment to stem negative coverage of any administration would require a supermajority in both houses of Congress or a constitutional convention, as well as ratification by three-quarters of the states.

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Ring of Fire: “Reince Priebus Says Trump Considering Abolishing 1st Amendment”

12 Responses

  1. We need an Amendment to abolish Trump!

    Before he gets a lot of innocent U.S. citizens killed and maimed.

  2. Did anyone ask Reince what stories in particular he felt were without basis in fact?

  3. Hina Azam

    @aminawadud Great – the king of slander, defamation, libel, and garden-variety deceit wants a free pass.

  4. A supermajority in Congress sounds troublesome but with the present weakness of the opposition party it might be achieved. I like the system in Australia where the legislation for an amendment to the Constitution must first be passed by both houses of Parliament, then passed in a nationwide referendum where there is both a majority of the popular vote and a majority in two thirds of the states. Needless to say, this almost never happens.

  5. There should be more attention to this. Trump has noticed the success of other authoritarians like Erdogan, and in his own frustration at getting his way, is now tacking strongly towards dispensing with the forms and institutions that stand in the way of his simply ordering things to be done the way he sees fit. In his old life, as a CEO, he was for all intents and purposes a dictator; it’s only natural that he would come to prefer that as a mode of operation.

    But now that he is openly starting in on the Constitution, he’s turning a corner. I predict that he will now begin to attack the Constitution with increasing intensity.

    And why not? It’s only the thing that Republicans worship. Maybe he’ll ask for a rewrite of the Bible next.

    “This covet thy neighbor’s wife thing- I mean- I tell you- that’s very old. Old. Shouldn’t be there.”

    He’s going to go after the foundations of the country, the constitution, and democracy itself. Because it’s inconvenient to him.

    President for life?

  6. The Republicans, courtesy of ALEC, have a much, much worse plan.

    They want to rewrite the entire Constitution, allegedly so that a balanced budget amendment will be included. This type of amendment to the constitution is called an Article V amendment.

    At least 30 states have, arguably, voted in favor of an Article V Constitutional Convention. For a good discussion of the proposed convention and state votes,see LA Times op/ed:
    link to

    When 34 vote in favor, there will be a new Constitutional Convention, only without James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, etc.

    Quote from wikipedia: “While there have been calls for an “Article V Convention” based on a single issue such as the balanced budget amendment, it is not clear whether a convention summoned in this way would be legally bound to limit discussion to a single issue; law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen has suggested that such a convention would have the “power to propose anything it sees fit”,[2] whereas law professor Michael Rappaport[3] and attorney-at-law Robert Kelly [4] believe that a limited convention is possible.”
    Source: link to

    Kentucky and Wisconsin are perilously close to voting yes.

    Which may mean that the count could be 32 out of 34.

  7. The Constitution is archaic – says Trump. It was this “archaic” constitution that got him elected by the Electoral College rather than by the majority of the people.

  8. Gee, there’s so many ways to undermine freedom of speech without going through all the hassle of honestly rewriting one’s Constitution. We’ve had local censorship boards, “community standards”, the Mississippi Citizens Council, all the way up to putting whistleblowers in solitary confinement. And that’s just the homegrown stuff. The tricks overseas are amazing! My favorite is Singapore’s practice of “gazetting” dissident publications by simply changing their mail category; a gazette can only print one copy, which must be mailed to the Singaporean national library for, uh, safekeeping.

  9. They might have a slim chance of amending the libel statute. As for a constitutional amendment to the Bill of Rights, not a snowball’s chance in Hell for passage by Congress and even lower chance of being ratified by the states.

    The scary thing is that Priebus admits the Administration might look at a constitutional amendment. It is amazing and a bit terrifying that people in the White House would even consider such an assault on basic freedoms.

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