Name Suppression – A Comparison of Jurisdictions

In the United States there is no such thing as name suppression. Why?

The Bill of Rights, The Constitution and specifically the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If we had such a constitution instead of the muddle that exists today depending upon laws passed in the Parliament then we wouldn’t have the ludicrous situation that exists with name Suppression that is unfolding on our television screens right now.

The right of freedom of speech and of the press is so strong that no State nor the Federal governemnt has ever been able to meddle with the First Amendment. Time and again the Supreme Court has struck down infringements of the First Amendment. One such case is in Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960), the Court struck down a Los Angeles city ordinance that made it a crime to distribute anonymous pamphlets.

Anonymous pamphlets? that is very close to a description of blogs albeit they operate in a somewhat more technical environment than a pamphleteering printing press. Still the press is now the server and a collection of programs residing on the server, it is the same thing really.

(from Wikipedia)

In Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938), Chief Justice Hughes defined the press as, “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.” Freedom of the press, like freedom of speech, is subject to restrictions on bases such as defamation law.

That would clearly cover blogs.

Unfortunately we do not have the luxury of the protection of the US Constitution, we have a wishy-washy liberal namby-pamby Bill of Rights authored largely by Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

Now consider the case of Michael Jackson. If he had lived in New Zealand and committed the crimes he was charged with in the USA then nobody would have been able to legally find out who he was. He could have theoretically continued on in his chosen career with so much as a hindrance because he would have obtained name suppression much like the “Entertainer” that I have allegedly named and now been charged for allegedly naming.

We now have a similar case before the courts, though the alleged offender is certainly no Michael Jackson nor is he a Drew Carey or Jerry Seinfeld. His problem though is that the total number of “Comedians” is laughably small and if every single other male comedian all set up a website and declared it wasn’t them so they could continue to work without stigma then that would almost certainly land them in court given my situation because in doing so they had through a process of elimination allowed for his identification. If I was a “Comedian” in NZ I would be very pissed off right no, with the media for so describing him and with the courts for having name suppression. That of course is the perfect world and there is a young victim here who must be protected.

The problem we have here in New Zealand is that our Bill of Rights stands under every other law. It means something only when the establishment want it to mean something. In the USA the Constitution and the Bill of Rights stand above all else, politicians, legislators, the Judiciary, everyone including any new laws come under the Constitution. That difference is huge.

If and when New Zealand finally makes the move to a Republic, I hope that it is done in a way that sorts out our constitutional mess and we end up with a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that stands above all else. That way we might finally be able to free our selves from the tyranny of politicians and their meddling.