February 08, 2005

John Wirenius Blog

The Wirenius Report Blog has recently been launched:

John Wirenius is a lawyer and scholar whose practice and writing centers around the balance of power between the individual and the state, and in preserving freedom of speech. John is presently representing pro bono the New York City artist Barbara Nitke and the NCSF in the First Amendment case Nitke v. Ashcroft, which challenges federal statutes allowing prosecutors to apply the most conservative community standards of decency in the Nation to the entire Internet.

In the interest of helping out, I thought I'd do post about it.

I am of course biased, since I worked with John Wirenius on the above-mentioned Nitke v. Ashcroft case. His initial post has a very long status update, and also says nice things about me (I am not too modest to quote that section, but there's important material in it):

We had two generous and brilliant tech-wizards--Ben Laurie and Seth Finkelstein--who purely for principle, agreed to appear in court and explain why speech on the Internet is an all-or-nothing thing--that you can't prevent visitors from the more conservative communities from accessing a website or other online speech.

The quality of his writing shines in other commentary too, e.g. analysis of the obscenity issues in Extreme Associates Dismissal:

Moreover, obscenity law chooses a side in the war of ideas--defending old fashioned propriety against libertinism, or pro-sex viewpoints. That advantaging one side of an ongoing social debate violates the very core of the First Amendment--the requirement that laws be viewpoint neutral. In other areas of so called "low value speech," such as "fighting words," the Court has held that restrictions must be viewpoint neutral. See RAV v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 382-383 (1992). But again, in obscenity, that rule does not apply, with the only reason set forth is that "traditionally" obscenity law is an exception to free speech. (The Court in obscenity cases is a little like Tevye asserting "Tradition!" when all other arguments fail.) But tradition is not enough; as Justice Holmes pungently put it "it is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV." (Holmes, "The Path of the Law" in Collected Legal Papers (1921) at p. 187).

All well and good; but will the Court of Appeals (to say nothing of the Supreme Court) approve Judge Lancaster's daring in undermining these decades of settled authority? Stay tuned....

More to sample:

Catastrophic Success Against the English Language
NYC Gay Marriage Decision
Boxer v. Rice: What Liberal Media?

Blogdom is an oligarchy, where the cold equations of exponential distribution of attention dictate that there are many worthy voices which are barely heard. John Wirenius has brought a critical Internet free-speech fight through the courts, possibly going to the Supreme Court. Hear him.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in legal | on February 08, 2005 08:08 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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