The Supreme Court Reigns Insane!
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Porn wins in free-speech Internet battle
Supreme Court decides rule to punish smut peddlers tramples 1st Amendment
Posted: June 29, 2004
3:35 p.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
The U.S. Supreme Court today blocked enforcement of a law designed to protect children from Internet pornography, believing the measure was likely a violation of free-speech rights.
The 5-4 ruling in the case of Ashcroft vs. the American Civil Liberties Union is not the first time the high court has considered the case, and it likely won't be the last, as the issue now returns to a lower federal court, giving the federal government another chance to prove the law does not violate the First Amendment.
The Child Online Protection Act was passed in 1998 and signed by then-President Clinton. Though it now has the support of the Bush administration, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the majority, felt the measure was too broad, impacting legal material along with smut.
"There is a potential for extraordinary harm and a serious chill upon protected speech," he said.
Kennedy added that software designed to filter out pornography "is not a perfect solution to the problem of children gaining access to harmful-to-minors materials."
The First Amendment protects material that is indecent but not obscene, allowing adults to view or purchase it, while children are precluded.
Agreeing with Kennedy were Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
On the dissenting side were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer, who felt the law is already constitutional.
"The court's decision removes an important weapon from the prosecutorial arsenal," Breyer said.
"We're very pleased with the decision," ACLU lawyer Ann Beeson said. "The status quo is still with us and the court made it safe for artists, sex educators and Web publishers to communicate with adults without risking jail time."
The ruling is being blasted by family groups across the nation.
"The Court's utter lack of concern for the irreparable harm pornography does to our most innocent citizens is astounding," said Michael DePrimo, senior litigation counsel for the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy. "The only real harm that would be suffered by the pornographers if this law was allowed to go into effect is a loss of money. For the Court to find otherwise is reprehensible," DePrimo added.
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said his group was disappointed with today's decision.
"The Supreme Court missed an important opportunity to act now to protect our nation's young people," Sekulow said. "By sending the case back to a lower court and blocking COPA from taking effect, the high court further delays consideration of an important law needed to protect children. We are hopeful that the government will be able to establish that Congress acted properly and in a constitutional manner in enacting this law."
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July 1, 2004
'Conservative' Supreme Court? Are
By Benjamin Shapiro
© 2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
What ever happened to the "conservative" Supreme Court? The "lackeys" who "handed" George W. Bush the presidency? Apparently, they aren't so conservative, even though the liberal media continues to complain that the court shills for the Republican Party.
In the last few years, the Supreme Court has written sodomy into the Constitution of the United States; affirmed that affirmative action was constitutional, citing a broader need for "diversity"; refused to rule on whether or not "under G-d" in the Pledge of Allegiance was constitutional; and ruled that campaign-finance reform laws restricting free speech do not actually restrict free speech.
The latest spate of rulings from those right-wing zealots handed terror suspects, homegrown and foreign, the right to challenge their detention in an American courtroom. Since Zacarias Moussaoui's trial went so swimmingly, the justices in their infinite wisdom have decided that Osama bin Laden's buddies deserve their day in court. About the only question left is whether foreign terrorists should get in-state tuition at California public colleges.
In other news, that "conservative" court has decided that certain attempts to limit access to Internet pornography violate the First Amendment. Yes, that's right, Virginia! Getting together with your friends, incorporating and buying a political ad in the weeks leading up to an election is illegal in the United States – and that ban is constitutional. But asking website operators to use credit cards, personal ID numbers or adult access codes to bar minors from entering porn sites is unconstitutional. So that's what the founders were thinking: Anti-Kerry ads must be stopped, but for G-d's sake, please protect "L-rd of the G-Strings"!
The court has precisely three conservatives: Justices William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O'Connor are wild cards. Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are liberals. One so-called moderate, O'Connor, leans heavily liberal. As of 2003, O'Connor had voted with Ginsburg on 75 percent of the cases on which both had sat. Objectively, the court isn't under the direction of Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.
And yet, somehow, the reality that the Supreme Court is largely liberal doesn't register on the liberal radar, even when the Supreme Court is toeing the leftist line. Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the leftist Brookings Institution, described the Supreme Court terror decision this way: "A conservative Supreme Court found that a president wasn't sensitive enough to very basic constitutional rights, and that must be hurtful over at the White House."
The New York Times editorial board described the Supreme Court as "conservative" – in a June 27, 2003, editorial praising the court for writing sodomy into the Constitution. Linda Greenhouse, a New York Times reporter, echoed that sentiment at the time, writing, "A conservative Supreme Court has now identified the gay rights cause as a basic civil rights issue."
Why can't liberals simply accept that they've won with regard to the Supreme Court? Because if they do, they'll also have to accept that the results of the 2000 election were legitimate. It's easy enough to slander President Bush as a "president-select" when you apply the "conservative" label to the body that decided Bush v. Gore, as vitriolic filmmakers Michael Moore and Harry Thomason do. But if the court is liberal, then Al Gore's defeat cannot be attributed to Republican conspiracies. If liberals acknowledge that the court is closer to Gore than to Bush ideologically, it's difficult to claim that the justices decided to throw the presidency to Bush.
If liberals admit that the court is liberal, they will also have to accept that there is no broad consensus on liberal agenda items. Because the supposedly "conservative" Rehnquist court is legitimizing liberal cause after liberal cause, leftists can currently claim that the American populace is forcing the "right-wing" court into capitulation. But if the court is actually liberal, then liberals will have to concede that judicial activism, not popular support for liberal causes, is behind the justices' decisions.
The saddest part of this judicial tragedy: Seven of these justices, including O'Connor, Stevens and Souter, were appointed by Republicans. While legitimate conservative Robert Bork promotes his books, Justice Kennedy decides cases.
Chances are good that at least one justice will step down during the next term. There's no guarantee President Bush would appoint a hard-line conservative to the court, but the chances are certainly better with Bush than with Kerry. Republicans must strengthen their control of the Senate to ensure that a real conservative reaches the court.
Conservatives would do well to remember what liberals ignore: The court is
liberal, not conservative. And unless Republicans strengthen their hold on
power, it's going to stay that way.
Benjamin Shapiro, 20, is a recent graduate of UCLA and the author of the new book, "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth." To find out more about Ben Shapiro, visit the Creators Syndicate website.
Religious establishment prohibited.
Freedom of speech, of the press, and right to petition.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We are constantly being assailed from every angle! This decision keeps the gate open to more mind corruption! Currently there are over 300,000 Porn sites on the internet! This only encourages more! What were the Supreme Court Justices thinking? This law was designed to block children from Internet Pornography! This law was for the good of our children! I am sure the framers of the Constitution had nothing like this in mind when they put our countries documentation together! (See Documentation Here!)
Let's define exactly what the word speech is!
The faculty or act of speaking.
The faculty or act of expressing or describing thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by the articulation of words.
Something spoken; an utterance.
Vocal communication; conversation.
A talk or public address: “The best impromptu speeches are the ones written well in advance” (Ruth Gordon).
A printed copy of such an address.
One's habitual manner or style of speaking.
The language or dialect of a nation or region: American speech.
The sounding of a musical instrument.
The study of oral communication, speech sounds, and vocal physiology.
[Middle English speche, from Old English sprǣc, spǣc.]
Excuse Me! Excuse Me! I do not see anything contained within that definition that describes viewing pornography as free speech! I do not see anything in that definition that allows the presentation of pornographic depictions! Excuse Me! Excuse Me!
Ok! Ok! I'm done shouting for now! Usually Truth On The Net Dot Com uses larger than normal type fonts so readers can better view and read the article! But for now I am shouting in this article when the type font size increases!
Let's get some history concerning free speech!
The modern American conception of freedom of speech derives from the principles of freedom of the press (mainly in the context of political criticism) and freedom of religion as they developed in England, starting in the seventeenth century. The arguments of John Milton and others on the importance of an unlicensed press, and of John Locke and others on religious toleration, were the precursors to the idea of freedom of speech, although also relevant is the much narrower concept of "freedom of speech" as an immunity for prosecution for anything said in the course of parliamentary debate.
By 1791, when the First Amendment was ratified, the idea of "freedom of speech" was sufficiently entrenched that it became the primary language of the amendment, with "freedom of the press" being added to ensure that written and printed as well as oral communication was protected: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Still, the focus both in law and in political discussion at the time was on printed political argument, whether in newspapers or the kinds of tracts distributed by men like Thomas Paine.
The period from 1791 to the early twentieth century saw almost complete judicial noninvolvement in free speech and free press questions, and public discussion was devoted largely to free press rather than free speech ideas. But when the Supreme Court actively began in 1919 to concern itself with judicial enforcement of the First Amendment, it was in the context not of newspapers or magazines or books but of speakers, or occasionally pamphleteers, who were protesting American involvement in the First World War or promoting anarchist, socialist, or syndicalist causes. Although the convictions were upheld and the speakers imprisoned in cases involving the now-forgotten figures Charles T. Schenck, Jacob Abrams, and Jacob Frohwerk, as well as prominent ones such as Eugene V. Debs, the Supreme Court's language in those cases has had an enduring effect. In upholding the convictions of Schenck, Frohwerk, and Debs, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., enunciated the principle of the "clear and present danger," according to which, to justify regulation, the harms resulting from speech had to be greater in likelihood and immediacy than harms of other varieties. And in dissenting from the conviction of Abrams, Holmes developed the notion of the "marketplace of ideas," which has dominated public understanding of the importance of freedom of speech.
The development of freedom of speech for the next forty years was also dominated by Supreme Court protection of largely oral and frequently socially marginal communicators, of whom the most important were the Jehovah's Witnesses. In case after case in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, they challenged restrictions on their proselytizing activities and won in the Supreme Court and in the lower courts with sufficient frequency that their victories established in legal doctrine and public consciousness the principle that even annoying, intrusive, and offensive speech is to be protected by the courts and tolerated by the public as incidental to an open society.
Contemporary understandings of freedom of speech, however, owe even more to developments in the 1960s, during which first civil rights protesters and then objectors to the Vietnam War found the courts upholding their activities against governmental efforts to restrict them. Increased public acceptance of such activities followed. In this respect, the modern protection of freedom of speech is partly fortuitous, for the protection of civil rights demonstrators, paraders, and picketers in the 1960s was largely an adjunct to judicial protection of the civil rights movement generally. Nevertheless, the First Amendment principles developed to further the civil rights movement remained in place to be used for other speakers promoting other causes.
The most important manifestation of this transfer started in the late 1960s, when the Supreme Court with some consistency recognized the right of speakers in the "public forum" to articulate ideas that not only were in opposition to established military and political authority but also were highly likely to offend unwilling listeners or viewers. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Court protected with some frequency those who desecrated the American flag, who displayed offensive language, such as obscene words on an article of clothing, and who conveyed messages often as likely to be harmful as they were offensive. Operating on the assumption that under regulation of even harmful speech was the only way in an imperfect world to protect against the over regulation of harmless speech, the Court went from the protection of Vietnam protesters to the protection of the speech of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed, it was the Klan case of Brandenburg v. Ohio that in 1969 established the current extraordinarily strict understanding of the Holmesian idea of "clear and present danger." Speech leading to violence or other unlawful activities can be restricted only if the ensuing lawless activity is likely to be "imminent" and even then only if the speaker has explicitly urged that activity. By 1977 it was considered an "easy case" when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, sitting in Chicago, upheld the right of the American Nazi party to march in a community (Skokie, Illinois) heavily populated by Holocaust survivors, a decision the Supreme Court refused to review.
Legal doctrine has not always translated into public understanding or freedom in fact, but here the result of a large number of Supreme Court cases protecting even harmful and offensive speech in the public forum, and narrowing to virtual disappearance the legal definition of "obscenity," has created an environment in which the presence of unpleasant speech is taken for granted by most of the public, whether they agree with that state of affairs or not. There will, of course, continue to be disputes about the actual boundaries of this very broad principle, but the legacy of the Jehovah's Witnesses, of the civil rights movement, and of the Vietnam protesters is one that is unlikely to be very much narrowed, in large part because the legacy of the red scare of 1919 and the McCarthy era of the late 1940s and early 1950s is one whose avoidance also influences current understanding.
Harry Kalven, Jr., A Worthy Tradition: Freedom of Speech in America (1988); Richard Polenberg, Fighting Faiths: The Abrams Case, the Supreme Court, and Free Speech (1987).
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Order Code 95-815 A
Freedom of Speech and Press:
Exceptions to the First Amendment
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