Protecting Children from Speech
Alan E. Garfield
Widener University - Delaware Law School
Florida Law Review, Vol. 57, 2005
Public concern about minor access to inappropriate speech (violent, sexual, vice advertising) has led to an onslaught of regulatory responses in recent years. Courts have wrestled with the constitutionality of these regulations but their decisions have provided little clarity as to what legislators may or may not do.
In this Article, I guide legislators and judges through the thicket of child-protection censorship. I cut through the mass of precedent, empirical studies, and scholarship to distill the child-protection/free speech conflict into a series of comprehensible questions. By identifying the key questions underlying the conflict, I draw attention to the core constitutional and policy choices at stake whenever speech is suppressed to protect children. My hope is that this conceptual roadmap will change the tenor of the child-protection censorship debate which too often is phrased in extreme terms: either that government censorship is never to be permitted or that courts should always defer to the censorship decisions of regulators.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 87
Keywords: free speech, censorship, children, constitutional law
JEL Classification: K1, K10
Date posted: April 20, 2010