Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Amendment rights restored

The federal judge who gagged the MIT students for 10 days after a school project revealed flaws in the MBTA's fare system finally reached the correct decision and threw out the restraining order today.

US District Court Judge George O'Toole was wrong to have originally granted the T's request for such an order. The scope of reasons that a judge can censor citizens in America is, and should be, extremely narrow -- for example, troop movements during war time. A court order that prohibits publication or the release of information is known as "prior restraint," and it is decreed quite rarely. The usual route is that somebody can sue for damages after publication and, if their case is judged legitimate by a jury, can be awarded damages.

The fact that the T system has weaknesses is the agency's problem, not the students. They should move to fix it and not blame the messengers. On a positive note for the T, their lawyer in today's hearing is named Ieaun Mahoney, and I cannot think of another name or word that has four different vowels in a row. That is pretty cool.

No comments: