There was a poll a few years ago about the Bill of Rights and I think the poll showed that most people thought it was a communist plot.
-- Corliss Lamont, humanist philosopher, Columbia University professor
A notable reply to Hamilton's skepticism came from Judge Samuel Bryan of Philadelphia in 1787. The judge confronted the assertions that Congress had no power whatsoever to deal with the press by citing what became Article 1, section 8, of the Constitution, which allowed the central government "to make all laws that shall be necessary and proper." Who would say a limitation on the press was improper? While acknowledging the importance of a strong national government in such areas as defense and interstate commerce, Judge Bryan observed: "Universal experience demonstrates the necessity of the most express declarations and restrictions to protect the rights and liberties of mankind, from the silent, powerful, and ever active conspiracy of those who govern."1
Jefferson not only agreed with these sentiments but, writing again from Paris, he emphasized freedom of the press and religion and reaffirmed that, "a Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference." Judge Bryan had referred to universal experience. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were extracted from the uniquely American experience that had produced, from colonial rule and a war for independence, the understanding of liberty that needed constitutional protections legally enforceable through a Bill of Rights.2
It was the American Constitution, born out of the American experience, that for the first time in human history provided a legal basis for freedom of speech and press. Americans had, after all, been involved with their own representative governing bodies during more than 150 years of colonial life. James Madison's remarkable character and intellect were to leave their