Sex, Laws, and Cyberspace: Organized Interest Litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court

By Daum, Courtenay W. | Justice System Journal, September 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Sex, Laws, and Cyberspace: Organized Interest Litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court


Daum, Courtenay W., Justice System Journal


The hypothesis that a technological development such as the Internet will create legal uncertainty and prompt organized interests both to increase litigation and to alter their legal arguments to advance their interests before the U.S. Supreme Court is tested through examination of organised-interest participation in litigation in sexually explicit speech cases in pre-Internet (1986-93) and Internet (1994-2005) eras of the Rehnquist Court (1986-2005). How content on the Internet changed the substance of organized interests' legal arguments is also examined. Both organized interests that oppose (libertarian groups) and support (proscriptive groups) proscription of sexually explicit speech increased their rates of Supreme Court litigation in the Internet era, and libertarian organized interests took the lead in sponsoring litigation in this area. The Internet also promoted the creation of numerous new libertarian organizations with Internet-specific agendas, which entered into sexually explicit speech litigation. Organized interests identify the Internet as a unique communicative development and make arguments fitting their concerns to that medium.

Technological changes have profound implications for the American legal sysem, because they have the capacity to unsettle existing power relationships and instigate the development and organization of new interests and to affect the mobilization of interested parties and the initiation of litigation. They can also affect the content of cases entering the courts and the substance of the law; courts' processes and procedures; and the dissemination and exchange of information among courts, legal actors, and the public. This article will discuss how technological innovation and ensuing government regulations may raise new legal questions, alter the dynamics of group litigation and group relationships, and create opportunities for organized interests to lobby for legal change and subsequently usher new claims into the courts. In particular, I examine whether a technological change such as the Internet challenged the established legal paradigm for sexually explicit speech and in doing so prompted an increase in litigation among existing organized interests and the development of new organized interests in response to the legal uncertainties associated with the Internet.

Technological changes and developments in communications "have profound social and political consequences" (de Sola Pool, 1998:237). Such change often prompts new legislative activity, as legislators enact laws designed to regulate new communicative media; litigation challenging the laws often follows. Government regulation of new means of communication inevitably raises questions about the applicability of the First Amendment freedoms of speech and press to new types of technologies. As a result, the courts often bear the burden of resolving new legal questions raised by technological innovations. Given the likelihood that the courts will resolve the legal uncertainty associated with new technological developments such as the Internet, it seems probable that organized interests will increase their legal participation to facilitate outcomes beneficial to them. This article explores the proposition that a technological development such as the Internet will create legal uncertainty and prompt organized interests to facilitate the resolution of these uncertainties via legal challenges, thereby increasing their participation in sexually explicit speech litigation to advance their interests at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Internet and Sexually Explicit Speech Regulation. In 1993, generally recognized as the point at which the Internet "goes public," traffic on the Internet expanded at a 341,634 percent annual growth rate (PBS, 2003). Governing bodies began to take advantage of the Internet in 1993; both the White House and the United Nations went online, and businesses and media began to capitalize on the Internet as well (Zakon, 2003).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sex, Laws, and Cyberspace: Organized Interest Litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.