Texas Court to Decide if 'Revenge Porn' is Free Speech


An overturned state law against "revenge porn" is getting another day in court. 


A state appeals court in April ruled the 2015 law is unconstitutional on free-speech grounds.  The case involved a Decatur man whose Houston lawyer, Mark Bennett, pointed out that the First Amendment protects all kinds of harmful speech.


“No matter how heinous the speech might appear to be.  No matter how politically unpopular it is.  No matter how politically incorrect it is.  No matter how little ordinary people would want to engage in it,the Legislature is not allowed to create new categories of unprotected speech,” says Bennett.


“The statute is substantially over broad, because it punishes a real and substantial amount of protected speech along with any unprotected speech it might forbid.”


The 12th Court of Appeals agreed, and then declined a state request to rehear the case.  The state this week submitted the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.


Meanwhile,the Texas legislature has a pair of replacement bill ready to go if the court rules against the state.


“I've argued to the Court of Criminal Appeals that it shouldn't be deciding whether some other law would be constitutional, because that's not an issue before the court right now,” says Bennett.  “The issue for the court is whether this particular statute unconstitutional.”


A decision is expected within months.


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