Opinions & Commentaries

This appeal from a judgment of conviction entered by the Recorder's Court of the City of Detroit, Michigan, *381 challenges the constitutionality of the following provision, § 343, of the Michigan Penal Code:

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Appellant, who operated a stationery store and luncheonette, was convicted of selling "girlie" magazines to a 16-year-old boy in violation of § 484-h of the New York Penal Law, which made it unlawful "knowingly to sell . . . to a minor" under 17 "(a) any picture . . . which depicts nudity . . . and which is harmful to minors," and "(b) any . . . magazine . . . which contains [such pictures] and which, taken as a whole, is harmful to minors."

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Appellants are an exhibitor and the distributor of a motion picture named "Viva Maria," which, pursuant to a city ordinance, the Motion Picture Classification Board of the appellee City of Dallas classified as "not suitable for young persons." A county court upheld the Board's determination and enjoined exhibition of the film without acceptance by appellants of the requirements imposed by the restricted classification. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals affirmed,[1] and we noted probable jurisdiction, 387 U. S. 903, to consider the First and Fourteenth Amendment issues raised by appellants with respect to appellee's classification ordinance.

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The issue before us in this case is whether, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, a State may extend a cause of action for damages for invasion of privacy caused by the publication of the name of a deceased rape victim which was publicly revealed in connection with the prosecution of the crime.

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430 U.S. 308 (1977) OKLAHOMA PUBLISHING CO. v. DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR OKLAHOMA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, ET AL.   No. 76-867. Supreme Court of United States.   Decided March 7, 1977. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OKLAHOMA.PER CURIAM. A pretrial order entered by the District Court of Oklahoma County enjoined members of the news media from “publishing, broadcasting, or disseminating, in any manner, the name or picture of [a] minor child” in connection with a juvenile proceeding involving that child then pending in that court. On application for prohibition and mandamus challenging the order […]

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438 U.S. 726 (1978) FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION v. PACIFICA FOUNDATION ET AL.     No. 77-528. Supreme Court of United States.    Argued April 18, 19, 1978. Decided July 3, 1978. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.*728 Joseph A. Marino argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Robert R. Bruce and Daniel M. Armstrong.Harry M. Plotkin argued the cause for respondent Pacifica Foundation. With him on the brief were David Tillotson and Harry F. Cole. Louis F. Claiborne argued the cause for *729 the United States, a respondent […]

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We granted certiorari to consider whether a West Virginia statute violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution by making it a crime for a newspaper to publish, without the written approval of the juvenile court, the name of any youth charged as a juvenile offender.

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Section 16A of Chapter 278 of the Massachusetts General Laws,[1] as construed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, requires trial judges, at trials for specified sexual offenses involving a victim under the age of 18, to exclude the press and general public from the courtroom during the testimony of that victim. The question presented is whether the statute thus construed violates the First Amendment as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.

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At issue in this case is the constitutionality of a New York criminal statute which prohibits persons from knowingly promoting sexual performances by children under the age of 16 by distributing material which depicts such performances.

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The courts below declared unconstitutional the following Virginia statute: "It shall be unlawful for any person . . . to knowingly display for commercial purpose in a manner whereby juveniles may examine and peruse" visual or written material that "depicts sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful to juveniles." Va. Code § 18.2-391(a) (Supp. 1987). The unique factual and procedural setting of this case leads us to conclude that an authoritative construction of the Virginia statute by the Virginia Supreme Court would substantially aid our review of this constitutional holding, and might well determine the case entirely. Accordingly, we certify two questions to the Virginia Supreme Court.[1]

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The issue before us is the constitutionality of § 223(b) of the Communications Act of 1934. 47 U. S. C. § 223(b) (1982 ed., Supp. V). The statute, as amended in 1988, imposes an outright ban on indecent as well as obscene interstate commercial telephone messages. The District Court upheld the prohibition against obscene interstate telephone communications for commercial purposes, but enjoined the enforcement of the statute insofar as it applied to indecent messages. We affirm the District Court in both respects.

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The Communications Decency Act of 1996 ("CDA"), 47 U.S.C. § 223, prohibits the transmission of indecent and patently offensive materials to minors over the Internet. A number of civil rights and computer groups challenged the constitutionality of these provisions on First Amendment grounds. In essence, these groups argued that the inability of Internet users and providers to verify the age of information recipients effectively prevented them from engaging in indecent speech, which traditionally has received significant First Amendment protection. After a lengthy evidentiary hearing that included many online demonstrations, a special three-judge district court (which was created by the CDA to hear the expected constitutional challenges) agreed with the groups and ruled that the provisions violated the First Amendment. Indecent speech, unlike obscenity, is entitled to constitutional protection because it often has substantial social value and lacks prurient interest. Sable Communications v. FCC, 492 U.S. 115 (1989). This speech therefore cannot be regulated unless the restrictions are justified by a compelling governmental interest and are narrowly tailored to advance that interest. Turner Broadcasting System v. FCC, 114 S. Ct. 2445 (1994). The Court already has held that the government has a compelling interest in protecting minors from indecent speech. Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968). The Court also has held that the government may prohibit dissemination of indecent materials to minors as long it does not at the same time prohibit dissemination to adults. FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).

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In Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, this Court found that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA)-Congress' first attempt to protect children from exposure to pornographic material on the Internet-ran afoul of the First Amendment in its regulation of indecent transmissions and the display of patently offensive material. That conclusion was based, in part, on the crucial consideration that the CDA's breadth was wholly unprecedented. After the Court's decision in Reno, Congress attempted to address this concern in the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). Unlike the CDA, COPA applies only to material displayed on the World Wide Web, covers only communications made for commercial purposes, and restricts only "material that is harmful to minors," 47 U. S. C. § 231(a)(I). In defining "material that is harmful to minors," COPA draws on the three-part obscenity test set forth in Miller v. California, 413 U. S. 15, see § 231(e)(6), and thus requires jurors to apply "contemporary community standards" in assessing material, see §231(e)(6)(A). Respondents-who post or have members that post sexually oriented material on the Web-filed a facial challenge before COPA went into effect, claiming, inter alia, that the statute violated adults' First Amendment rights because it effectively banned constitutionally protected speech, was not the least restrictive means of accomplishing a compelling governmental purpose, and was substantially overbroad. The District Court issued a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of COPA because it concluded that the statute was unlikely to survive strict scrutiny. The Third Circuit affirmed but based its decision on a ground not relied upon by the District Court: that COPA's use of "contemporary community standards," § 231(e)(6)(A), to identify material that is harmful to minors rendered the statute substantially overbroad.

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