Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bong Hits And Ad Runs

by Jacob Sullum - June 27th, 2007 -

In 2004, when Wisconsin Right to Life sponsored radio ads urging people to contact the state's senators, it was trying to stop filibusters against judicial nominees. In 2002, when Joseph Frederick, an 18-year-old high school senior, held up a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner at an Olympic torch rally in Juneau, Alaska, he was, by his own account, only trying to get on TV.

Yet both cases, which resulted in Supreme Court decisions announced on the same day this week, illustrate the perils of carving out exceptions to the First Amendment. Rationales for censorship tend to expand and proliferate, leaving people uncertain about whether they're free to speak their minds.

The unelected tyrants of our Supreme Court continue their campaign for judicial power. The more uncertainty there is about what is legal or not, the more power the courts have to assure filing a suit against an adversary is the only process to ascertain who wins. The only people who win are of course the lawyers and judges.

Sullum expresses the opinion that this is some unintended consequence, he calls it the "perils of carving out exceptions to the First Amendment." I dispute there is anything about this that is uncertain or vague. Calling it a peril of their actions assumes the judges really were trying to do something good and the consequences were unintended. To believe that you must impute to these unelected tyrants honest motivations they do not deserve.


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