Big Tobacco Claims 1st Amendment Right to Lie, Deceive and Kill

"The Justice Department is demanding
that the nation's biggest cigarette makers be ordered to
forfeit $289 billion in profits derived from a half-century
of fraudulent and dangerous marketing practices. Citing new evidence, the Justice Department asserts ... the major
cigarette companies are running what amounts to a criminal
enterprise by manipulating nicotine levels, lying to their
customers about the dangers of tobacco and directing their
multibillion-dollar advertising campaigns at children. ... The tobacco industry said the charges were without merit,
asserting in new filings of its own that its public
pronouncements about cigarettes were free speech protected
by the First Amendment. ... [Attorney General] Ashcroft, who opposed the lawsuit
when he was in the Senate, has demonstrated occasional
resistance to it since becoming attorney general in 2001. ... But with the Justice Department's senior officials
preoccupied with terrorism for the last 18 months, Mr.
Ashcroft let it go forward ... ."