THE FIRST AND THE FOURTEENTH
If human nature is utterly corrupted, no government is possible. If we are, as Rousseau would have it, natively good, no government is necessary. It's the middle ground where human nature is a damaged piece of goods and where you say, "I can know the good but not do it," that calls for the restraints of government, either by imposition or by contract.
-- S. J. Timothy Healy, former president, Georgetown University; president, New York Public Library
The significance of the Fourteenth Amendment, enacted in 1868, so far as freedom of the press is concerned found its roots in the Zenger trial of 1735 and had to evolve (as already described) through a number of Supreme Court cases in the twentieth century to become full grown. The most commonly held view was and is that the Fourteenth Amendment rectified the flaw in the Bill of Rights that had been imposed by the Senate's rejection of Madison's separate proposal giving supremacy to the federal Bill of Rights over any action by state legislatures affecting the rights of individual citizens. Some scholars, however, feel that the evidence for such a view is inconclusive.
There was little doubt, however, that interpretation of the Constitution and the amendments reached its apogee before the Supreme Court. Whatever the Court decided became the law -- unless, as Lincoln vowed, it was changed by the people through their representatives or by amendment. During the 1920s and 1930s the decisions of the Supreme Court began the movement toward "incorporating" the First Amendment rights -- speech, press, petition, and assembly -- into the "privileges and immunities" and the "equal protection of the laws" described in the Fourteenth Amendment. The abolitionist leaders, including the clergy, had seen freedom of speech and press as inseparable from the issue of slavery. Early in the nineteenth century, slaveowner states were more sharply aware than ever of the danger