Why do politicians and judges allow perverts and abstract thinkers to dictate the boundaries in our society. We are a free society. Everyone knows if you take it too far, it will eventually impode on itself. We have to have rules. Instead of debating the edges so vehemently, sometimes we should see how many people of good will we can get to agree on doing the right thing, and once we get a general concensus: do it.
Supreme court allows Online-Porn Law to Die
The Supreme Court yesterday ended Congress's most recent attempt to protect children from sexually explicit and other objectionable material on the Internet.
The court without comment refused to hear the Bush administration's attempt to save the Child Online Protection Act, which has been challenged as unconstitutional since its passage in 1998 and which has never taken effect.
The law would have provided civil and criminal penalties for those who offer material that is "harmful to minors" on the Web if that material is "available to any minor." It was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, who said it violated the First Amendment by censoring material that was appropriate for adults or by restricting material for adults to only that which was deemed suitable for viewing by children.
The Supreme Court expressed doubt about the law but asked lower courts to examine it more closely. A federal appeals court last year agreed that it violated the First Amendment because computer filters and other tools available to parents were more effective in keeping inappropriate material from children.
The Bush administration requested that the court itself consider the issue, and that is the petition that the justices denied yesterday.
The case is Mukasey v. ACLU.
The court issued opinions in five cases yesterday, three of them unanimously.
In one, the court ruled that parents unhappy with how a school handled allegations of sexual harassment from their young daughter could sue under both Title IX and a broader civil rights law that is meant to enforce the Equal Protection Clause.
A lower court had ruled against Lisa and Robert Fitzgerald, who had sued the Barnstable School Committee in Massachusetts. The Fitzgeralds had said that their kindergarten-age daughter was harassed on a school bus by a third-grade boy every time she wore a dress. The parents said the boy forced her to lift her skirt or pull down her underwear.
The parents were unhappy with the remedies offered by school officials, such as placing their daughter on a different bus; the school officials said they could not substantiate the girls' claims and thus did not discipline the boy.
Lower courts dismissed the claim under the Title IX law, which bars sex discrimination at schools that receive federal money, and said it precluded the parents' ability to sue under the provision of civil rights law known as Section 1983.
But in an opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the court said that was wrong and that Congress never intended for Title IX to bar suits under civil rights laws.
For instance, Alito noted that Title IX claims have not been seen as authorizing suits against individuals, which Section 1983 allows.
During oral arguments, several justices suggested that the Fitzgeralds might not be successful under either law. But the court made no judgment on their claims and said that was not the issue in the case.
The case is Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee.