All freaky, kinky, queer women are human beings.
Not all human beings are freaky, kinky, queer women (more’s the pity).
So how is that related to the first amendment? The First Amendment (FA) protects more than just speech. It protects a total of 5 separate rights. Let’s take a look at the full text and then break it down:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Broken down, it looks like this:
Congress shall make no law
- respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
- abridging the freedom of speech,
- or of the press;
- or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
- to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The shift from “or” to “and” has caused some interpretive comment. Initially there was some disagreement over whether peaceful assembly was only protected while petitioning the government for redress and/or petitions were only allowed through peaceful assembly (because of the word “and”). The second option got almost no traction at all, but there was some serious discussion about which sorts of peaceful assemblies must be allowed before it was sorted out as a broad right to peacefully assemble for pretty much any purpose.
Though #1 above could reasonably be split into a 1a (establishment) and 1b (free exercise), in US law schools today these are taught as one combined right, with neither fully protected without the other being protected.
All this comes up because of 2 & 3:
Congress shall make no law
2. abridging the freedom of speech,
3. or of the press;
The freedom of the press is thus a First Amendment issue, but First Amendment issues of involving freedom of speech are not (necessarily) issues of freedom of the press. You’re going to be reading a bit in the upcoming days about Trump’s move to exclude a CNN reporter from an otherwise open press event. (The actual action was undertaken by Bill Shine, but only via the delegated authority of Trump.) There have been a number of responses to this and there will be more still, but one interesting exchange (and by “interesting” I mean that someone was incredibly, incredibly stupid and much smarter people stepped in to help that stupid person out) took place on CNN’s twitter feed. In the stupid comment, the author appears to have entirely failed to appreciate that an issue impacting freedom of the press is not the same as an issue impacting freedom of speech. There were also some, well, other problems.
I can’t find it now (that twitter feed goes FAST), but the essence was that one person claimed that the FA was threatened by the administration excluding reporters on the basis of editorial disagreements. Someone else, someone very, very stupid, claimed that Trump was allowed to exclude reporters because, and I quote, “it works both ways”.
Now the only conceivable interpretation that doesn’t make you question how this person could point and click on a website is that “the First Amendment works both ways”. There simply wasn’t anything else that was “working” in any sense, save the FA working to protect the ability of CNN’s reporter to do her job. Therefore the only thing that could be working “both ways” was the FA.
But what in the FA could possibly give Trump the power to exclude a White House credentialed reporter from an open-pool event? The freedom of religion?
No, of course not, but if the freedom of the press – the operant freedom in the first case – was giving Trump a power to do or not do something, Trump would have to be part of the media (formally or informally). He’s not, and even if he had a part time job in media, that job isn’t what would give him the power to permit or exclude anyone’s attendance at a White House event. The job that permits that is the Office of the President of the United States of America, and that office is granted no powers under the freedom of the press.
One could argue that this very, very wrong person meant that the FA worked both ways – one way to permit questions, the opposite way to prevent reporters attending events – by virtue of different clauses. In that case, which is most probably what this wrong person intended, the only clause that has any possible bearing would be the freedom of speech. Yet that, too, has no power to act as the wrong person suggested. Trump may very well have a desire to communicate a specific message, but that would only give him rights against the government. It doesn’t give him rights against private media companies or individual reporters.
The long and short of it is that when interpreting any amendment, remember that the Constitution cannot regulate a relationship to which it is not a party, save to the extent authorized through the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, and even then the only time the constitution can regulate that relationship is when the parties include at least one non-federal governmental entity. Trump as a private speaker gets no rights against CNN through the operation of the FA. Trump as president has no free speech rights, and, finally, Trump as President must respect the rights of the press.
It can be confusing, but keep in mind that the rights of free speech and the rights of a free press are different, and that while the five individual rights granted under the FA are severable, there is no component of the FA which grants rights to the government itself.