In some rare good news from the frequently activist judiciary, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to indulge the government’s wishes to restrict free speech — and in so doing, held that heavy-handed regulation is no substitute for good parenting.
For more than a decade, federal lawmakers have been searching for a way to corral the spread and accessibility of sexual content on the Internet. Their efforts are meant to protect children, of course — and if it helps their re-election campaigns, so much the better.
In 1998, Congress passed the Child Online Protection Act, which would have barred Web sites from making objectionable content available to minors. That legislation was a reaction to the high court’s 1997 rejection of the Communications Decency Act, another measure to shield children from whatever Congress says is objectionable.
But the new law so badly trampled the First Amendment, it never took effect. The Bush administration kept the law on life support through eight years of appeals. The Supreme Court had already rejected it once before, in 2004.
Politicians know no limits in their desire to create an infantocracy, where laws are conceived and passed in the interests of keeping children in a bubble, protected from the influence of all potentially corrupting influences — especially those of their families. Not even the clear language of the Bill of Rights can deter elected officials at all levels of government from kowtowing to the nanny staters.
Finally, on Wednesday — the day after George W. Bush left the White House and returned to civilian life — the Supreme Court said it wouldn’t consider reviving the unconstitutional rubbish. The decision supported a lower court ruling that filtering technologies and Internet parental controls are a much less restrictive and appropriate way to keep curious kids from viewing Web porn.
Parents are better able to guide and control their children’s media habits than a politician? What a concept.