William H. Freivogel | St. Louis Public Radio

William H. Freivogel

William H. Freivogel is director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Previously, he worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 34 years, serving as assistant Washington Bureau Chief and deputy editorial editor. He covered the U.S. Supreme Court while in Washington. He is a graduate of Kirkwood High School, Stanford University and Washington University Law School. He is a member of the Missouri Bar.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The typical American citizen could be forgiven for being confused about the seriousness of the disclosure that the National Security Agency is collecting everyone’s telephone data as part of its effort to detect terrorist communications.

From one point of view, the disclosure of the NSA’s big data collection program is one of the most significant security leaks in U.S. history. It a massive invasion of every American’s privacy and proves the existence of the "surveillance state."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: National security reporting exists in a legal world just as murky as the intelligence community it covers. It a world of uncertainty with conflicting constitutional interests, laws, customs and policies. 

The government has a legitimate interest in protecting intelligence secrets by prosecuting government employees who violate their legal pledge to keep classified information secret.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Contrary to conventional wisdom, the proposed federal shield law backed by the press and President Barack Obama wouldn’t help reporters protect their sources in big national security cases, such as the recent ones involving the AP and James Rosen of Fox.  In fact, the law could make it harder for the press to protect sources in those cases.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 3, 2013 - National security reporting exists in a legal world just as murky as the intelligence community it covers. It a world of uncertainty with conflicting constitutional interests, laws, customs and policies. 

The government has a legitimate interest in protecting intelligence secrets by prosecuting government employees who violate their legal pledge to keep classified information secret.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Justice Department has the authority to subpoena the telephone records of news reporters, legal experts say, but its secret subpoena of the records of 100 AP reporters is unprecedented in scope.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 15, 2013 - The Justice Department has the authority to subpoena the telephone records of news reporters, legal experts say, but its secret subpoena of the records of 100 AP reporters is unprecedented in scope.

"Legally the government can do it," said Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who is an expert in national security law and the First Amendment.  "But it has never been this big, involving this many people and this secretive."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 13, 2013 - Vernon Bowman's challenge to Monsanto Co.'s patent on its Roundup Ready soybean seeds was billed as a David v. Goliath contest. Goliath won and won big.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that Bowman, a 75-year-old soybeans farmer from southern Indiana, had violated Monsanto's patent on its genetically engineered soybean seeds. Bowman had used commodity seeds he bought from a local grain elevator to make new seeds with Roundup Ready traits. 

Vernon Hugh Bowman (in white jacket) with attorney Mark P. Walters outside the Supreme Court in February when his case was argued.
Robert Koenig | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Vernon Bowman's challenge to Monsanto Co.'s patent on its Roundup Ready soybean seeds was billed as a David v. Goliath contest. Goliath won and won big.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 9, 2013 - The American people are "both passionately engaged in their own view of the Constitution and woefully ignorant" about it, says the historian who helped develop PBS's new series "Constitution USA."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The American people are "both passionately engaged in their own view of the Constitution and woefully ignorant" about it, says the historian who helped develop PBS's new series "Constitution USA."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 26, 2013 - Missouri can keep protesters 300 feet away from around a funeral without violating free speech rights, a federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled on Friday.

The Missouri law had been challenged by the Westboro Baptist Church, which has held hundreds of anti-gay protests around the country in recent years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:Missouri can keep protesters 300 feet away from around a funeral without violating free speech rights, a federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled on Friday. The Missouri law had been challenged by the Westboro Baptist Church, which has held hundreds of anti-gay protests around the country in recent years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 19, 2013 - The unprecedented events in Boston -- the lockdown of a major U.S. city during a manhunt for a terrorism suspect -- demonstrated the amazing power of the media to help and sometimes hinder a criminal investigation.

The manhunt for the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing also demonstrated the way in which the media can contribute to and heighten the frenzy and sense of danger in a community.

This article irst appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 18, 2013 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Missouri couldn’t force a Cape Girardeau man suspected of drunken driving to submit to a blood alcohol test without obtaining a search warrant. 

The court ruled 5-4 in favor of Tyler McNeely who was arrested after driving erratically and then forced to submit to a blood test at a hospital after he refused a breath test. The blood test showed he was legally drunk. (Read the Scotusblog file on the case.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 09, 2013 - The Missouri Supreme Court cleared the way for developer Paul McKee to use $390 million in tax increment financing to redevelop two square miles of north St. Louis.

The court ruled unanimously that St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. erred when he ruled in 2010 that the St. Louis ordinances authorizing the huge project did not set out a “defined development project.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Supreme Court cleared the way for developer Paul McKee to use $390 million in tax increment financing to redevelop two square miles of north St. Louis.

The court ruled unanimously that St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. erred when he ruled in 2010 that the St. Louis ordinances authorizing the huge project did not set out a “defined development project.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 29, 2013 - Should the U.S. Supreme Court pay attention to the elections or the opinion polls in deciding what the Constitution means?

Should the court be an engine of social change – as it was during the Warren Court of the 1950s and '60s – or should it avoid getting too far ahead of the American public?

What should that grand promise of “equal protection” mean?  What it meant in 1868 when it was written into the Constitution with the blood of hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers? Or 1954 when it first was found to prohibit racial segregation? Or 1967 when it finally ended the ban on interracial marriage?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:Should the U.S. Supreme Court pay attention to the elections or the opinion polls in deciding what the Constitution means?

Should the court be an engine of social change – as it was during the Warren Court of the 1950s and '60s – or should it avoid getting too far ahead of the American public?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 28, 2013 - Clarence Earl Gideon is buried at his birthplace of Hannibal, Mo. with an eloquent epitaph on his tombstone.

“Each era finds an improvement in law for the benefit of mankind,” it reads.

Gideon’s era was 50 years ago this month when a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right of a poor person to a lawyer. The case was Gideon v. Wainwright.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the March on Washington; The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day, Aug. 28, 1963, delivers the "I Have a Dream Speech"; President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation on civil rights, June 11, 1963; Alabama Gov. Georg
Wikipedia images

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:Clarence Earl Gideon is buried at his birthplace of Hannibal, Mo., with an eloquent epitaph on his tombstone.

“Each era finds an improvement in law for the benefit of mankind,” it reads.

Gideon’s era was 50 years ago this month when a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right of a poor person to a lawyer. The case was Gideon v. Wainwright.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 27, 2013 - Five U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed ready on Wednesday to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but they didn’t agree on the reason.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the swing justice, suggested that the law denying federal benefits to same-sex couples “intertwined” the federal government with “the citizens’ day-to-day life” in a way that violated federalism by interfering with the states’ power to regulate marriage, divorce and custody.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After the first of two days of historic legal arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the betting line hasn’t changed: The U.S. Supreme Court likely will look for a way to avoid a broad ruling recognizing or rejecting gay marriage but will likely strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Mary Ziegler, a professor at Saint Louis University Law School, put it this way: “Based on the comments, there isn’t any appetite to do anything broad -- either that there is a right for gay couples to marry or there isn’t.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Five U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed ready on Wednesday to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but they didn’t agree on the reason.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the swing justice, suggested that the law denying federal benefits to same-sex couples “intertwined” the federal government with “the citizens’ day-to-day life” in a way that violated federalism by interfering with the states’ power to regulate marriage, divorce and custody.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 26, 2013 - After the first of two days of historic legal arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the betting line hasn’t changed: The U.S. Supreme Court likely will look for a way to avoid a broad ruling recognizing or rejecting gay marriage but will likely strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 18, 2013 - Critics of Monsanto -- and they are legion -- demonize the company for seizing control of food production technology and undermining the tradition of seed-saving in agriculture. 

Monsanto's agents, called the "seed police" by some farmers, arrive on a farmer's doorstep when they get a tip about cheating or when their figures show that a farmer hasn't bought enough seed to account for all of the crop he is harvesting.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 18, 2013 - On Tuesday, Vernon Hugh Bowman will be a long way from the small Indiana farm where he was born 75 years ago and still farms 300 acres. He will be in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the reach of Monsanto Co.'s patent to protect its Roundup Ready seeds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2013 - Five years have passed.  People don’t talk much about Cookie Thornton anymore. The mistrust of City Hall that some have felt has eased, but not disappeared. Meacham Park is less separate from Kirkwood, but not wholly integrated. Normalcy has crept back into city affairs, except for one key ingredient — the innocence that the people of Kirkwood lost on Feb. 7, 2008.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Writing about Kirkwood after the City Hall shootings has been intensely personal. My wife and I grew up in Kirkwood, live there now and have lived there a majority of our lives.

People I've interviewed for this and previous stories are friends. David Holley, the principal at Kirkwood High School until recently, was on my Khoury League team.  First his dad was coach, then mine. We'd always lose to another team whose pitcher, the older brother of Charles "Cookie" Thornton, pitched the ball about twice as hard as I. (Click here to read the story about the fifth anniversary of the shooting in Kirkwood.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2013 - Writing about Kirkwood after the City Hall shootings has been intensely personal. My wife and I grew up in Kirkwood, live there now and have lived there a majority of our lives.

People I've interviewed for this and previous stories are friends. David Holley, the principal at Kirkwood High School until recently, was on my Khoury League team. First his dad was coach, then mine. We'd always lose to another team whose pitcher, the older brother of Charles "Cookie" Thornton, pitched the ball about twice as hard as I.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 14, 2013 - Twenty-five years ago, on Jan. 13 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a devastating blow to student speech and the student press when it validated the authority of the principal of Hazelwood East High School to remove controversial stories about teen pregnancy and divorce from the school newspaper over student objections.

Pages