The Times and freedom of speech

This Times editorial discusses free speech issues in a case to be argued at the Supreme Court today.

There needs to be strong protection for a core area of protected speech and advocacy. Americans should be able to make arguments to a court on the behalf of terrorist groups. That is crucial for the legal system to work and for the constitutionality of laws of this kind to be tested. They should be able to print the views of these groups for journalistic purposes, either to report the news or to convey a range of opinions. People also need to be free to speak independently about these groups.

These rights need to be made clear in advance. It is not enough for the government simply to say it will not prosecute in these cases. As long as people fear being sentenced to 15 years in prison, they are likely to avoid engaging even in protected speech.

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