Score One For The First Amendment

Reversing his earlier ruling, Judge Jeffrey White [lifted the domain-name block on](/government/article.php/3731441/Judge+Strikes+Down+Wikileaks+Injunction.htm) on Friday, returning the whistelblower site to normal operating status in a decision celebrated by the free-speech/press advocates that had rallied to its side. And with good reason.

Wikileaks exists as a forum for people who have evidence of some kind of corporate or government impropriety that’s eating away at their conscience but that they cannot come forward with publicly. In a word, whistleblowers.

Thanks to documents posted Wikileaks, the world learned a little more about how prisoners are treated at Guantanamo Bay, human-rights concerns in China and political corruption in Kenya. Go back a generation, and recall that it was an individual bearing witness to corruption under the cloak of anonymity who exposed the Nixon administration as the paranoid and unlawful enterprise that it had sadly become.

The Wikileaks case centered around leaked documents that purportedly exposed wealthy individuals washing money through tax shelters created through the Cayman Islands subsidiary of a major Swiss bank. The bank, Julius Baer & Co., claimed that the documents were fraudulent and exposed the personal information of its clients.

Last week’s ruling had nothing to do with the authenticity of the documents. Rather, Judge White ruled that First Amendment concerns (as well as some jurisdictional uncertainties) required him to reverse his earlier injunction against the site.

This case struck an important (albeit preliminary) victory not only for free speech, but for the role of the Internet as a journalistic outlet. As *The New York Times* aptly put it, the injunction was “akin to shutting down a newspaper because of objections to one article.”

In America, we don’t do that. My thanks to the court for reversing what could have become a dangerous precedent.

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