Media Blog

The Censorship Act of 2009

Wow.  We’re all going to jail:

Under a recently-introduced bill, H.R. 1966, bloggers would face up to two years in prison if they “harass” public figures by criticizing them in a “severe, repeated, and hostile” manner, and thereby cause them “substantial emotional distress.”

U.C.L.A. Law Professor Eugene Volokh, the author of a First Amendment treatise, has concluded that the bill is unconstitutional. I agree, as I explain here. As a federal appeals court noted in DeJohn v. Temple University (2008), “there is no harassment exception to the First Amendment’s free speech clause.” Speech that causes emotional distress can be protected,as the Supreme Court made clear in barring a lawsuit by Jerry Falwell over an offensive parody.

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