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August 21, 2008

Court: First Amendment Protects Advertisement of Anti-War T-Shirts With Fallen Soldiers' Names

Anyone who uses the names of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq as part of a political punch-line is subhuman scum. If they had any moral scruples, such people would be too embarrassed to show themselves in public. They are scum and barely articulate scum. But they aren't criminal scum.

Yesterday, a federal district court permanently enjoined the State of Arizona from prosecuting Dan Frazier, a man who sells "Bush Lied -- They Died" t-shirts which list the names of 3,461 soldiers who died in Iraq. The order also enjoins private citizens from suing him under a state-created cause of action for selling the t-shirts. The order is here (PDF). The statute, if you were interested, is here.

Arizona created the law last year with exactly this type of anti-war activity in mind. Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas now have similar laws.

The judge concludes that the marketing and sale of the t-shirts involves inextricable, core political speech. With no way to tease out the commercial activity (which may be regulated) from the political speech, the whole disgraceful mess comes under the strongest protection of the First Amendment. He doesn't go so far as to hold the statute entirely unconstitutional, just unconstitutional as applied to Frazier.

According to CNN, he is also being sued by a solders' family in Tennessee for $40 billion in damages. I can't find anything more about that case, but it's possible that there are some common law causes of action for privacy or publicity under which they could prevail.

The cure for objectionable speech is more speech. So fuck you, Dan Frazier.

Thanks to genghis.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:07 PM

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