Morality in Media Blasts President Bush’s Weak Stand on Porn

Morality in Media Blasts President Bush’s Weak Stand on Porn
Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON – Only weeks after the unexpected resignation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, watchdog group Morality in Media has called on the Bush Administration to stop allowing the First Amendment to be used as a shield for pornographers that commercially distribute adult entertainment.

Using O’Connor’s departure as a possible shoe-in for a more conservative candidate, Morality in Media encouraged Bush in its letter to “nominate a person who understands the difference between cherished liberty and ruinous license and who will not invalidate reasonable and necessary laws intended to protect society and children from obscenity and indecency.”

The watchdog group lauded the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions like Miller vs. California, which determined that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment; Near vs. Minnesota, which ruled that the primary requirements of decency may be enforced against obscene publications; and Roth vs. United States that ruled that obscenity is not constitutionally protected speech or press. But the group lambasted the Supreme Court for other decisions that it claims went lax on pornography by limiting the reach of obscenity laws to only hardcore porn, forcing cities to give adult business owners a “reasonable opportunity” to open, and invalidating a law against morphed child porn.

Calling the Supreme Court’s recent decisions an act of pushing “our nation ever closer to the brink of moral anarchy,” Morality in Media also hammered the court for invalidating a law restricting children’s access to indecent material on the Internet and for shooting down another law restricting children’s access to pornography on cable television.

Other moves Morality in Media felt were backward steps for the fight against porn included a Pittsburgh federal judge’s decision that federal obscenity laws are now in large measure unenforceable, and a recent New York petition in federal court arguing that a federal obscenity law cannot be applied on the Internet.

“Mr. President, we realize that there is often a fine line between Justices properly interpreting the Constitution and in effect rewriting it, but if that line no longer exists and Justices are free to effectively rewrite the freedom of speech and of the press clause to reflect their own libertarian views, then ours is no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people, as Lincoln aptly put it,” the letter stated. “What we have is a judicial oligarchy accountable to no one.”

Several months ago, Morality in Media commissioned a national survey on the enforcement of federal Internet obscenity laws and discovered that 82 percent of adult Americans surveyed said that federal laws against Internet obscenity should be vigorously enforced.

Another survey cited by Morality in Media was carried out by the Pew Research Center that claimed 75 percent of respondents favored stricter government enforcement of decency rules when children are more likely to be watching TV.

The letter sent to Bush on July 14 lists some 57 supporters representing a large swath of advocacy and religious groups, including Citizens for Community Values, USA Radio Network, Faith2Action, Family Policy Network, American Decency Association, Jews for Morality, Kids First Coalition and Jan LaRue’s Concerned Women for America.

Headquartered in New York, Morality in Media also operates ObscenityCrimes.org, where people can report possible Internet violations of federal obscenity laws to prosecutors.