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The state's senior deputy attorney general, Robert Montgomery, likened the law to a 1992 Supreme Court decision that forbids politicking within 100 feet of a polling place.He noted that social networking sites are used to gain information in more than 80% of online sex crimes against children."These are some of the worst criminals, who have abused children and others," he said.Now that the Supreme Court has unanimously overturned its decision, I trust that the members of the North Carolina court (except for Justices Robin E.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that Facebook, Linked In and other sites offer a range of services beyond social networking.

Kagan said they are an important channel for political information and conversation, including the president's proclivity for tweeting newsworthy musings.

, holding 8-0 that a North Carolina law prohibiting previously convicted sex offenders from accessing or using “social networking” websites violates the First Amendment.

The Volokh Conspiracy had more involvement in this case (on the victorious side, I’m happy to note) than usual; Eugene Volokh and a number of his students at UCLA’s Amicus Clinic wrote an amicus brief supporting the grant of certiorari (a brief that I joined, along with a number of other law professors), and, after the Court granted cert, I wrote (along with Perry Grossman) an amicus brief supporting the petitioner for several tech policy organizations (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Center for Democracy and Technology). and Justice Clarence Thomas) described the statutory prohibition as “unprecedented in the scope of First Amendment speech it burdens.” [S]ocial media users employ these websites to engage in a wide array of protected First Amendment activity on topics “as diverse as human thought.” …

[T]o foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.[T]he State may not enact this complete bar to the exercise of First Amendment rights on websites integral to the fabric of our modern society and culture. Talk about “burning down the house to roast the pig.” I’m glad the court rejected it, firmly (and unanimously).

It is well established that, as a general rule, the Government “may not suppress lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech.” … You can’t “suppress lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech.” Exactly.

It is cyberspace—the “vast democratic forums of the Internet” in general, To the extent this reflects the court’s willingness to recognize strong First Amendment protection for the right to access the Internet, it could call other regulations involving Internet access restrictions into question.

For example, my colleagues Annemarie Bridy and Harold Feld have each suggested that provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requiring Internet service providers to terminate Internet access for “repeat [copyright] infringers” could face renewed scrutiny after On the other hand, one man’s ringing words are another’s — specifically, Alito’s — “loose rhetoric” and “undisciplined dicta.” The concurring justices (Alito, Roberts, Thomas) agreed with the majority that the NC statute “sweeps far too broadly to satisfy the demands of the Free Speech Clause,” and they had no particular problem with the way the majority characterized and undertook the First Amendment analysis in the case.

“Unexceptionalism,” The majority takes the Unexceptionalist position: the Internet is just like a park — a public place where people can go to express themselves; it’s just like real space, and the same principles should apply to it. [I]t is easier for parents to monitor the physical locations that their children visit and the individuals with whom they speak in person than it is to monitor their internet use. [Unlawful conduct in real space is more likely to] be observed by parents, teachers, or others. [T]he internet offers an unprecedented degree of anonymity and easily permits a would-be molester to assume a false identity.

The concurring justices are the Exceptionalists: The Court should be more attentive to the implications of its rhetoric for, contrary to the Court’s suggestion, there are important differences between cyberspace and the physical world. The Court is correct that we should be cautious in applying our free speech precedents to the Internet. Cyberspace is different from the physical world, and if it is true, as the Court believes, that “we cannot appreciate yet” the “full dimensions and vast potential” of “the Cyber Age,” we should proceed circumspectly, taking one step at a time.

This statute — like many of the laws concerning what sex offenders may and may not do — was preposterously overly broad from the get-go, and the only question in my mind was whether justices could possibly fail to see that.

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