But enough has been said to show the necessity of adhering to the common meaning of the word “necessary” in the clause under consideration, which is, that the power to be assumed must be one without which some one of the enumerated powers cannot exist or be maintained. It cannot escape notice, however, that the doctrine contended for, that the Administration must be protected against writings which are likely to bring it into contempt, as tending to opposition, will apply with more force to truth than falsehood. It cannot be denied that the discovery of maladministration will bring more lasting discredit on the government of a country than the same charges would if untrue. This is not an alarm founded merely on construction, for the governments which have exercised control over the press have carried it the whole length. This is notoriously the law of England, whence this system has been drawn; for there truth and falsehood are alike subject to punishment, if the publication brings contempt on the officers of government.
The law has been current by the fair pretence of punishing nothing but falsehood, and by holding out to the accused the liberty of proving the truth of the writing; but it was from the first apprehended, and it seems now to be adjudged (the doctrine has certainly been asserted on this floor), that matters of opinion, arising on notorious facts, come under the law. If this is the case, where is the advantage of the law requiring that the writing should be false before a man shall be liable to punishment, or of his having the liberty of proving the truth of his writing? Of the truth