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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Technology Meets Old Constitutionalism
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Just in time for today's oral arguments in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the infamous Janet Jackson/Superbowl episode, PFF is releasing Harvard University Professor Laurence Tribe's keynote address from this year's Aspen Summit. His speech outlines why content regulation by the government, regardless of the intent, runs counter to First Amendment principles.

Using the current push to regulate violence on television as an example, Professor Tribe identifies 14 reasons why such regulations violate free speech. His conclusion:

The broad lesson of this discussion of television violence is the centrality of the First Amendment's opposition to having government as big brother regulate who may provide what information content to whom, whether or not for a price. The large problem that this exposes is that especially in a post-9/11 world, where grownups understandably fear for themselves and for their children and worry about the brave new world of online cyber reality that their kids can navigate more fluently than they can, it is enormously tempting to forget or to subordinate the vital principles of constitutional liberty. Even if, after years of litigation and expenditure, the First Amendment prevails, it can be worn down dramatically by having to wage that fight over and over and over.

And, for those of you really interested in the arguments today, unfortunately C-SPAN has been barred from televising the festivities.
However, audio is expected to be released at the end of the day.

posted by Amy Smorodin @ 9:30 AM | Free Speech

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