Andrew — You quote this from the New York Times:
Prime Minister David Cameron has argued that the plan will keep the press free because it will be enacted through a royal charter, which is technically not a law because it is formally issued by the queen, not Parliament. But that is a distinction largely without substance.
Quite. This would be like the president setting up press regulation via an executive order and then claiming that because it didn’t violate the “Congress shall pass no law” part of the First Amendment, it was constitutional. And yet judging by the importance of this distinction to the arguments of the move’s defenders, it was a smart move politically. Depressingly, Britain’s elites appear wholly capable of the magical thinking that is necessary to believe that press laws will be less intrusive because they are passed in the Queen’s name rather than through parliament. A shame indeed.