Watchdog interested in SCOTUS nominee’s 1st Amendment stance


Robert Peters, executive at anti-pornography media watchdog Morality in Media, has come up with a list of eight questions that he believes senators participating in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan should ask.

The most interesting question, to our mind, was the one in which Peters cited a quote from former Chief Justice Earl Warren, and then seemingly made up a quote to attribute to the American Civil Liberties Union. Here it is:

“In your view, was former Chief Justice Warren correct when he said there is a ‘right of the Nation and of the States to maintain a decent society’ (378 U.S. 184, 199), or do you agree with the ACLU that there is a ‘right of the pornographers and of the entertainment media to maintain open moral sewers in our Nation’s communities and homes?’”

RBR-TVBR observation: We don’t know which First Amendment MIM refers to, but we are aware of this one: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That doesn’t leave a lot of room for making ANY law about speech, pornographic or otherwise.

That said, we realize that over time and at various times, the American people through their elected representatives have placed conditional restrictions on speech, and the court has upheld some of these.

The fact that restrictions are in place, and for the most part the nation’s entertainment media, at least the broadcast media, do not maintain “open moral sewers” – quite to the contrary, they could begin doing that tonight, starting at 10PM when safe harbor begins.

They do not. Some may play close to the edge, and finding where that edge should be is subjective and it shifts with ever-changing community standards. Peters is free to lobby for programming that suits his tastes, but neither he nor any Supreme Court justice may impose their taste on the rest of us.

Note: edited to correct naming error