What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases
--Salman Rushdie, "In good faith"
Now, what I am trying to suggest to you is just to understand the
moment in time we are at in which at least the people on the Internet
know that when you do something through words, you do something.
-- Catharine MacKinnon (Discussing the Jake Baker case, March 9, 1995)
If there is any
principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for
attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought--not
free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the
thought that we hate.
-- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in U.S. v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929)
The Jeffersonian model for universal freedom which Mr.
Gingrich so rightly applauds could not take into account the
barbarisms of the modern mind. Nor could it imagine the
genius by which such barbarisms can be disseminated as they
are today, in seconds, to the remotest and still most
innocent corners of the world. Someone, perhaps even the
Speaker of the House of Representatives, is going to have to
consider soon the implications, for ill as well as good, of
our venture out onto the information superhighway, or else
there are going to be some very messy electronic traffic
--Judge Robert Bork, "An Electronic Sink of Depravity," in the Spectator, (Feb. 4, 1995)
Cutting through the acronyms and argot that littered the hearing
testimony, the Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending
worldwide conversation. The Government may not, through the CDA,
interrupt that conversation. As the most participatory form of mass
speech yet developed, the Internet deserves the highest protection
from governmental intrusion. Just as the strength of the Internet is
chaos, so the strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and
cacophony of the unfettered speech the First Amendment protects.
-- US District Judge Stewart Dalzell (June 12, 1996)
In doing research on these and other cases, one outstanding reference is the Library of Congress's The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, an extensive set of annotations of Supreme Court cases up till 1992. You can locate cases with the aid of an on-line search engine, but it's probably easier to download the chapter on the First Amendment (780K!) and search with a text editor.
Last modified: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 12:42:32 -0400