Backwards Jurisprudence: Porn and Detention

Remember last year when the DC Circuit reviewed a few Guantanamo detainees’ habeas petitions and wound up dismissing all of the counts against them?

It wasn’t judicial economy.  That same judge just refused to dismiss an obscenity charge against that hallowed First Amendment ground, porn distribution:

A U.S. district judge today refused to dismiss the Justice Department’s case against the owner of a major pornography studio, shooting down the defense’s argument that federal obscenity statutes are unconstitutional.

The ruling by Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia could pave the way for John Stagliano and his company, Evil Angel Productions, to stand trial as soon as early summer. However, at a hearing today the judge said he would consider allowing defense lawyers to file an immediate appeal of his decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“This is about the overarching legal issue in this case, and needs to be resolved one way or another,” he said.

Law gets interesting when rights butt up against one another.  This case illustrates that classic Holmesian inquiry: Where does your right to swing your fist end?  The answer, of course, is: At the tip of my nose.

Where does your right to distribute porn end?  Well — at the edge of my kids’ vision, I suppose.  Says reason blog Hit & Run:

This could be an avenue for addressing the question of whether a community standards carve-out made when porn was still shown in downtown movie theaters is applicable to an era when porn is consumed at home with the blinds drawn. The right to privacy derives from technology, starting with the ability to build houses with separate rooms. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be expanding as technology advances.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Backwards Jurisprudence: Porn and Detention

  1. tom

    So should porn be wider distributed?

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