Saturday, May 2, 2009

First, not the Fifth

William A. Price testifying before a Senate panel in 1956.

William A. Price, a reporter for The Daily News who took the unusual step of invoking the First Amendment, rather than the Fifth, when refusing to answer questions before a Senate panel in 1956 about his possible ties to the Communist Party, and who later won a court judgment against the F.B.I. for wiretapping his phone in the 1970s, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 94.

It was the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.

Mr. Price, in a move that seemed to confound the subcommittee, refused to take the Fifth. Instead, invoking the First Amendment’s protection of free speech and a free press, he told the subcommittee that it did not have jurisdiction to inquire into his political beliefs.

Mr. Price was found guilty, fined $500 and sentenced to three months in jail.

His difficulties with the government did not end there. In April 1972, the F.B.I. placed a wiretap on Mr. Price’s home telephone on the suspicion that he might be in contact with fugitive members of the Weather Underground. Five years later, he filed suit against the agents who carried out the wiretaps, and in 1981 the Justice Department awarded him, and others, $10,000 in damages for the violation of their civil rights.

No comments:

Post a Comment