Supreme Court and free speech

Supreme Court and free speech

: The Supreme Court just blocked a law aimed at pornographers as a likely unconstitutional slap at free speech.

The court was divided and sent the case back to a lower court. But even in the case of pornography and children, the court stood behind free speech as a principle, an American ultimate, that requires protection. And if the Court protects free speech against even pornography and children, surely it will protect free speech against the indecent indecency legislation about to be signed by Bush.

“There is a potential for extraordinary harm and a serious chill upon protected speech” if the law took effect, Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority.

: UPDATE: Here’s Ernie Miller’s take on the decision. And here’s Eugene Volokh on the issue of prurient interest. And here’s Jack Balkin, who also says:

Putting together Justice Thomas’ opinion in Hamdi with his vote in ACLU v. Ashcroft, we may infer that the President can throw any citizen in a military prison indefinitely, but that the citizen has the right to view pornography while there.

Don’t you just love having your very own constitutional law experts at the ready?

: UPDATE: Henry sends me this great quote from Dennis Miller:

“The Senate overwhelmingly agreed on a bill Tuesday to fine broadcasters as much as $3 million a day for racy language. Oh, yeah? Well guess what, FCC. I’m still going to say whatever I want. So don’t intercourse with me.”

  • Andy Freeman

    I’m so impressed – the 1st amendment protects pictures of naked children, but not poltical speech by the rabble.
    I don’t care much either way whether the 1st amendment protects pictures of naked people/children/housepets. However, I care a lot about political speech by not-media, and as long as the latter is strictly regulated, we don’t have free speech.
    Disagree? Start by explaining why the barrel of ink that I buy is different than the barrel of ink that the NYT buys.
    And no, boobie-talk by Stern is no substitute.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Don’t despair, Andy — given that it now appears McCain/Feingold will restrict Michael Moore’s ability to advertise The Movie Not To Be Named, I’ll bet another case will make it to the SC’s shortly. It was a 5/4 decision as it was, I bet it won’t survive a second attempt.

  • http://blogs.rny.com/sbw/ sbw

    Considering Supreme Court verdicts over the last several days, doesn’t it appear that President Bush has been getting some bad legal advice?
    Where could that possibly come from? From the guy who was willing to trample the Constitution in order to protect the flag.
    Perhaps it is time for Attorney General John Ashcroft to retire.

  • http://www.tonypierce.com/blog/bloggy.htm tony

    no wonder Ashcroft lost to a dead man.

  • http://legalminds.lp.findlaw.com/list/cyberia-l/msg32701.html Seth Finkelstein

    Jeff, it’s not so simple. COPA was a criminal law, the FCC fines are not. Radio is also treated differently legally. Not that I’m arguing against free speech here. But as a matter of Supreme Court reading, one can’t jump from COPA to the FCC like that.

  • Michael Zimmer

    Andy: you misunderstand the law. COPA (and the ruling blocking it) does not involve the acceptability of child pornography. Rather, it involves the legality of blocking a child’s access to porn.

  • Andy Freeman

    > Andy: you misunderstand the law. COPA (and the ruling blocking it) does not involve the acceptability of child pornography. Rather, it involves the legality of blocking a child’s access to porn.
    I don’t misunderstand at all. Jarvis is more concerned about restrictions on porn than he is about restrictions on political speech by not-media types.