Newspaper is under no constitutional obligation

I recommend that the writer of “Printing letters from both sides is supported” (Letters, Jan. 6) read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution more carefully.

He claims that it states that “Congress or others” shall not abridge the freedom of speech and of the press. Wrong.

The First Amendment only restricts congressional action. The 14th Amendment extends First Amendment restrictions to state governments. No one advocated government censorship of The Maui News.

While anyone has a constitutional right to free speech, The Maui News has no constitutional duty to print any letter or article. Members of the public are free to express what they think The Maui News ought or ought not to do, and The Maui News is free to consider or not to consider these views.

That said, I support The Maui News continuing to provide a forum for competing viewpoints. I also support The Maui News editing or refusing to print letters that cross the line of decency. The same writer’s Dec. 16 letter, while blunt and based on selective facts, did not cross the line of decency.

Joe Clarkson