When all else fails a campaigner, why bother with the pros and cons of the issues and all the other piffle of politics when you can simply impose a gag rule on the opposition instead? Which seems to be the campaign strategy of Her Honor Courtney Goodson, if just using the political equivalent of a truncheon can be mistaken for a strategy instead of just a desperate delusion. This decision of hers should rightly be considered less of an argument for her re-election to the state's Supreme Court but for her impeachment.
Mrs. Justice Goodson, the wife of class-action king John Goodson, now seems to have taken on Arkansas' journalistic broadcasting fraternity, seeking to shut it up by court order now that mere persuasion has failed. The list of defendants in her ill-conceived lawsuit runs the gamut from Tribune Broadcasting in northwest Arkansas to Tegna Inc., which includes Little Rock's KTHV.
And, oh yes, let's not overlook this telling detail: The spouse of the same judge who issued this restraining order against Arkansas' press received income from John Goodson's law firm headquartered in Texarkana--all of which might confirm the public's suspicion that they, meaning the members of this state's bar, are all in this racket together.
Why in the world would a fair, unbiased voter choose to cast his ballot for a candidate like Courtney Goodson when other candidates are seeking his vote and support this election year? Beats me.
John Tull and Chris Keller, counselors-at-law, would make fine editorial writers should they ever tire of their day jobs, for they've summed up the significance of this case all too well: By entering a restraining order, even on a temporary basis, without hearing from the opposing side, they warn, "the court has completely banned campaign speech without notice and without providing Tribune, the other media defendants or anyone interested in free speech with any avenue to be heard in court. This case is an affront to not only the First Amendment but due process."
Messrs. Tull and Keller have given voice to one of the oldest principles of Anglo-American jurisprudence and plain old common sense. By now a welcome chorus has joined these once isolated and surrounded voices, including that of a revived and resuscitated American Civil Liberties Union. For the ACLU seems to have recaptured its old spirit of defending unpopular causes no matter what their motive by opposing the forcing outfits like the Judicial Crisis Network to reveal the sources of their funds.
Welcome back to the fight in defense of free speech, whether one agrees or not with what is being freely said.
"The spirit of liberty," as the late great Learned Hand once put it, "lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias."
For further details, see Marc Kilmer's "Courtney Goodson's Attack on Due Process and the First Amendment" on the website thearkansasproject.com.
Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Editorial on 05/23/2018
Print Headline: Shut up, she explains