Friday, October 13, 2006

Marvellous: Britain gets a "First Amendment"

Americans must find the ongoing role of the House of Lords in the government of Britain to be puzzling at best and a total anachronism at worst. Yet it is not so. In recent years, the Lords have been tenacious defenders of once-treasured English liberties. They resisted tooth and nail the ban on hunting with hounds, for instance.

They have just done it again. English libel law was some of the most insane and restricting in the world and greatly restricted the ability of the press to keep Brits informed about evils in their midst. But the Law Lords (the legal committee of the House of Lords) have just thrown all that into a cocked hat. They are the final court of appeal in Britain and they have just ruled that papers can print more or less what they like as long as it is in the public interest.

An inspiring last-ditch victory for free speech. Details here.

Interesting that it took an American firm to pursue the matter through all the courts until it got to the Law Lords. There are still lots of Americans who don't surrender their liberties without a struggle. A pity that there are not more Brits like that.

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