hotly contested films
jsilbey at suffolk.edu
Thu Jan 21 12:11:18 PST 2010
Slightly beside the point: it was once "hotly contested" whether film
speech, of the kind at issue here, was considered protected under the First
Amendment. Not until Burstyn in 1952 did the Court overrule Mutual Film
precedent (from 1915) to include film (fictional and otherwise) with other
more core first amendment speech. I think it ironic that only 50 years later
the Court is so comfortable with film as protected speech that they are
willing to extol the virtues of Hollywood for political discourse. "Mr.
Smith Goes to Washington may be fiction and caricature; but fiction and
caricature can be a powerful force." (Slip Op. at 56)
Whatever "hotly contested" means, it does not mean that judges cannot and
should not be deciding the issue. That has not been the practice of the
Court. And it certainly is not the practice in this case either.
Associate Professor of Law
Suffolk University Law School
Boston, MA 02108
<mailto:jsilbey at suffolk.edu> jsilbey at suffolk.edu
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