About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Independent Media and the Rule of Law"

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could with us for tonight’s discussion of “Independent Media and the Rule of Law.”

This program is presented in partnership with the International Bar Association, with generous support from the IBA Foundation, and we thank them for their support.

Before we get started, I’d like to tell you about two other events coming up later this month.

On Saturday, June 16, at 3 p.m., in collaboration with AFI DOCS, we will host the world premiere of The Cold Blue, a new documentary film about World War II’s B-17 bombers. The film uses archival footage from our holdings as well as commentary from some of the last surviving World War II B-17 pilots.

And on Wednesday, June 20, at 7 p.m., join us for “Citizen Engagement in America’s History,” a bipartisan discussion on how citizen movements have influenced policymakers. Panelists will include a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School along with one of her students, former and current Members of Congress, and others.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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A free press and the rule of law have been linked since the founding of our nation. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution—the supreme law of the land—guarantees freedom of speech and of the press. Upstairs in the Rotunda, you can read the original words in the Bill of Rights, written on parchment in 1789. Down the street at the Newseum, these words are literally written in stone on the building’s exterior.

The court and legislative records in the National Archives contain numerous challenges and defenses of the First Amendment. The first challenge came just seven years after the Bill of Rights was ratified, when Congress passed the 1798 Sedition Act. In the more than 200 years since, these rights have been tested but have always endured.

Let’s start the discussion on “Independent Media and the Rule of Law” and bring our panelists to the stage.

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Tonight’s moderator is Homer Moyer, a former appointee in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Mr. Moyer is the founder and chair of the CEELI Institute, an independent Rule of Law Institute in Prague, and he is a member of the Washington, DC, law firm of Miller & Chevalier.

Andrea Mitchell is the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC News, anchor of Andrea Mitchell Reports, former Chief White House correspondent, and former Chief Congressional Correspondent for NBC.

Lee Levine is senior counsel at Ballard Spahr, one of the country's leading First Amendment lawyers; author of Newsgathering and the Law; and a professor at Georgetown University Law School.

Jennifer Rubin is a journalist and lawyer, author of the "Right Turn" blog for the Washington Post; and has previously worked for Commentary and The Weekly Standard. Before becoming a journalist, Ms. Rubin was a lawyer in Los Angeles.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our panel to the stage.