Freedom of Speech in the West: A Comparative Study of Public Law in France, the United States, and Germany

By Frede Castberg | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
POLITICAL FREEDOM OF OPINION ACCORDING TO THE BONN CONSTITUTION

I. Article 5 of the Constitution

1. The main provision.Article 5 (1) is worded: "Everyone has the right to express his opinion freely in speech, writing, and picture, and to spread it, and to inform himself unhindered from universally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of presentation of news through film and broadcast are protected. Censorship does not take place".

There has been a certain amount of debate in German theory about how to define freedom of the press in particular. Professor Ridder has maintained the "institutional" character of freedom of the press. It is no longer a question of an individual "classical" freedom. One freedom exists, for instance, for the newspaper but not for its individual reporters; they must submit to being bound by the general policy of the paper. Political freedom of opinion is an institution (or an "institute") which is to ensure free debate in a democratic society1

In objection to this it could be said that though freedom of the press--like all other political freedom of speech--admittedly is intended to serve social purposes, this does not preclude that all freedom of speech at the same time is given to the individual in his own interest, as a result of the right to free development of personality (the Constitution's Article 2, (1)). The fact that an individual member of the press cannot write what he likes in the

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1
Ridder, pp. 250-2, 255, 258, 262 and 266.

-362-

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