Skip to comments.SCOTUS Asked to Decide Whether First Amendment Protects Sexting With Minors
Posted on 09/26/2017 2:55:16 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
In the days since the chaos in Charlottesville, First Amendment law and the limits of protected speech have been topics of growing public concern. The sometimes murky line between offensive, but legally-protected peaceful speech and unprotected, regulable speech has often been drawn with a political paintbrush; for decades, liberals defended even the most abhorrent speech while conservatives argued for an ever-constricting zone of First Amendment protection. Recently, we have seen something of an about-face on this issue. Were now seeing more left-leaning individuals and groups actively denounce speech of white supremacist groups, and more conservative demands for legal protection.
As the debate over the limits of speech for hate groups at rallies proceeds, a parallel battle over First Amendment limits of sexual speech has created a split in the legal world. Many states have enacted statutes that make it a crime for an adult to electronically share sexually-related speech with a minor if they are doing so with the intent to arouse sexual desire. Yesterday, the defendant in one such Minnesota case filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States, asking the high court to finally and uniformly declare these laws unconstitutional. Krista Ann Muccio, a Minnesota lunch aide, is accused of sexting with a 15-year-old student.
There is no question that the statutes in question are borne of the desire to protect children and prevent sex crimes at the earliest possible opportunity. If weve learned anything from To Catch A Predator, its that sexual predators lure and groom their young victims prior to what eventually becomes sexual assault. These statutes, originating from several different jurisdictions, are substantially the same as the Minnesota statute, and read as follows:
A person 18 years of age or older who uses the Internet, a computer, computer program, computer network, computer system, an electronic communications system, or a telecommunications, wire, or radio communications system, or other electronic device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to commit any of the following acts, with the intent to arouse the sexual desire of any person, is guilty of a felony
(2)engaging in communication with a child or someone the person reasonably believes is a child, relating to or describing sexual conduct;
Sidebar: there are also plenty of laws that prohibit adults from sharing obscene communications with or soliciting minors, but those statutes are not legally problematic. Obscenity and solicitation arent protected under the First Amendment, so theres no problem with a states making laws about them.
Under the law (and contrary to cable news incessant oversimplification of the issue), not all speech is protected by the First Amendment. Some categories such as defamation, obscenity, and perjury, to name a few are simply not protected by the First Amendment; therefore, speech that falls into those categories can be legally regulated, or even prohibited by the state or federal government. But speech that doesnt fall within one of the specifically unprotected categories cannot legally be regulated for its content. Non-obscene, non-solicitous speech that is simply sexual in nature is usually protected by the First Amendment, which is why these statutes are inherently suspect.
While the goal of protecting children from sexual predators is about as important as it gets, statutes like these make it tough to do so without simultaneously criminalizing speech that falls squarely under First Amendment protection. The statutes make it a crime not only to share material in the way society would want to stop, but also prohibits electronic communications of things such as song lyrics, classic novels, counseling advice on sexual identity, education on contraception, or even abstinence advocacy. Basically, theyre throwing out the educational baby with the predatory bathwater.
Not surprisingly, different courts view the issue different ways. The Ninth Circuit, as well as Texas highest court, have both held that these statutes violate the First Amendment because they are unconstitutionally overbroad. The highest courts of Georgia and Minnesota, on the other hand, have subscribed to a narrower interpretation of protected speech, and chosen to uphold these statutes.
Mucios case raises important questions about the breadth of First Amendment protection for speech. Well follow this case at LawNewz.com, and report when SCOTUS rules on whether to grant certiorari.
Sure why not, as long as Dad can depend on the 2nd for the ramifications of said texting.
Anthony Weiner crossing his fingers.
= = =
Should have crossed his legs.
Well in a few weeks he might be crossing weiners with one of his new cell mates. But I digress....
What a stupid waste of the courts time.
Is it illegal to SAY the words to the minors?
Hopefully more than one
Put all the sext you want on your phone.
Just don’t send it.
in fact, hopefully more than one at a time...
I figured it was filed on his behalf by Hillary herself. I just read where a mentally challenged transvestite thinks crapping in front yards is protected free speech and yet another wanting to lower the age of consent so I guess sadly this isn’t much a surprise.
I wonder how many minors are illegally on Grindr.
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