CYBERSPACE, 2004 (D.O.T.) - Morality in Media President Robert W. Peters contends that the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 recent decision to affirm a lower court's preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) runs counter to the intent of the Constitution. “This decision thwarts the repeated efforts of Congress to protect children from Internet pornography,” says Mr. Peters.

"Clearly, the Constitution, as our nation's founding fathers understood the document and as the Supreme Court itself understood it for almost 200 years, was not intended to cripple government's power to protect children or society from obscenity and indecency.

“The Court's decision in the COPA case and in its 1997 decision invalidating the Communications Decency Act (CDA) rest on its continuing belief that screening technology is or may be a 'less restrictive means' to protect children from Internet obscenity.

“The record would seem clear, however, that screening technology, standing alone -- and, in particular, parental use of screening technology -- has not been effective in blocking children's access to Internet pornography."

He lists eight surveys that support the point: a 1999 Time/CNN teen poll, a 1999 Yankelovich poll, a June 2001 Pew Internet & American Life survey, a December 2001 Kaiser Family Foundation study, the February 2002 Nielson/NetRatings, a 2002 Girl Scout Research Institute survey, a March 2003 report of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, and an Australian study in March 2003.

The consensus tells us that to protect children from Internet pornography, law, technology and an improved system of education will be necessary.

"Our nation's founding fathers viewed the First Amendment within a framework of ordered liberty,” says Mr. Peters, “not as a license to publish pornography, to strip naked in public places for the purpose of sexually arousing patrons, or to commercially distribute material harmful to minors without any legal obligation to adopt sensible measures to restrict children's access to smut.

"Many among our nation's secular elite now espouse a radically different view of the First Amendment, and they have every right to do so. What they don't have a right to do is enlist accommodating Supreme Court Justices to effectively rewrite the First Amendment by means of specious decisions. The power to amend is reserved to the people and their representatives.

"Admittedly, there is often a fine line between interpreting a Constitutional provision and in effect amending it to reflect the Justices' personal preferences or ideologies, irrespective of the history of a provision, the will of the American people, the Court's own precedent, and common sense.

"But if that line no longer exists, and Supreme Court Justices are 'at liberty' to interpret the Constitution in any way they please – then ours is no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people, as Lincoln so aptly put it.

“What we have instead is a judicial oligarchy accountable to no one. The official amendment process is simply too cumbersome to be an effective check on a Court that is now a law unto itself and that is ever changing the meaning of our nation's so-called new 'living' Constitution."


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