First Amendment Ruling Destined to Kill Internet Free Speech
October 7, 2010
It now appears certain the Supreme Court will rule against the First Amendment. “The justices appeared inclined to set a limit to freedom of speech when ordinary citizens are targeted with especially personal and hurtful attacks. The First Amendment says the government may not restrict free speech, but it is less clear when it also shields speakers from private lawsuits,” reports the Los Angeles Times this afternoon.
Jefferson, Madison and other framers considered free speech a cornerstone of the republic.
If the Court rules against the First Amendment, it will not only effect demonstrations and public displays, but also curtail freedom of speech on the internet, as one Justice pointed out today.
The case now before the Court concerns the Phelps family from Topeka, Kansas, who have picketed military funerals and proclaimed that God is punishing America and its soldiers for its tolerance of homosexuality. The case reached the Court after a Maryland father of a Marine killed in Iraq sued the Phelps family for holding up signs near his funeral that said “Thank God for IEDs” and also for posting remarks on their website that accused Albert Snyder of having raised his son “to defy the Creator” and “serve the devil.” A Maryland court awarded Snyder $5 million in damages, but the award was subsequently thrown out on the grounds it violates the First Amendment.