Government May Criminalize Truthful, Harmless Speech

(By Freedom Center of Missouri)
On July 19 the Missouri Supreme Court issued its opinion in Kansas City Premier Apartments v. Missouri Real Estate Commission, in which it upheld a state law that criminalizes the communication of truthful, harmless information. Although at trial the government’s own expert witness had testified that KCPA’s speech was both truthful and unlikely to cause any harm to the public, five of the high court’s seven judges ruled that Missouri citizens may not tell others about real estate unless the government has given them special permission to do so.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects nude dancing, burning the American flag, and images of animals being crushed to death,” said Dave Roland, director of litigation for the Freedom Center of Missouri, the public interest law firm challenging the speech restrictions. “But today the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that you can be thrown in jail for helping a friend find an apartment.”
The court’s ruling runs contrary to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent emphasis on protecting free expression. As Judge Michael A. Wolff pointed out in his dissenting opinion, less than one month ago the US. Supreme Court struck down a Vermont law that prohibited the sale of certain commercial information, powerfully reaffirming the constitutional principles that should have applied to the speech restrictions at issue in this case.
Wolff, whose opinion was joined by Chief Justice Teitelman, also highlighted the government’s failure to identify any likely harm at might justify the prohibition of KCPA’s speech: “If the state wants an injunction limited only to the use of false or deceptive information, the state may be able to make the required showing. But the broad prohibition of this injunction violates the First Amendment.”
The Freedom Center’s executive director Jenifer Zeigler Roland said, “The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that where the government seeks to restrict speech, it must show evidence as why that restriction is necessary. In this case the government offered no evidence to justify its criminalization of truthful speech..”
The Freedom Center of Missouri plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 22nd, 2011 and is filed under Latest News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Government May Criminalize Truthful, Harmless Speech”

  1. Phil on July 22nd, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    The courts are becomming as big of a problem as the executive branch–maybe more so. They swear to uphold the Constitution and then do just the opposite.

  2. victoria on July 23rd, 2011 at 4:51 am

    I’m so sick of our government! We need change at all levels–and not the kind of change Obama brought us either…

  3. Wayne C. on July 23rd, 2011 at 6:50 am

    What was the MO Supreme Court thinking? What is the point in asking for references on applications if people aren’t going to be allowed to speak the truth?

    This country continues in it’s downhill spiral!

  4. Ron W. on July 24th, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    This is a terrible decision and will set a very bad precident. I’m not real sure how effective an appeal to the US Supreme Court will be. They often have a very distorted view of the Constitution as well.

    I’m thankful to the Freedom Center for their work on this.

  5. Mike H. on July 26th, 2011 at 12:46 am

    If the government can restrict honest, truthful speech about our property, what will they want to restrict next? Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?

  6. Benny on July 26th, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I appreciate The Telegraph carrying this story. I did not see it in the local daily newspaper or the Kansas City Star.

  7. Ben on July 27th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I can’t hardly believe the Missouri Supreme Court ruled the way it did. I’m glad there are groups out there defending the fewer and fewer rights we have left.

  8. Wes on July 29th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    With the totalitarians we have in Washington, this revelation may only be the tip of the iceberg. Look out!

  9. Rita on August 1st, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    As bad as this is, now I’m fearfull of what they might try next! Our government no longer represents us–they are all about controlling us!

  10. Scott Hartfiel on August 6th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you for this article. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases.Thanks!

  11. Steve on August 9th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Everyone complains about the Government doing nothing, but in reality it’s us doing nothing. If the people of this homeland would make a stand and make a demand for what is correct then things would finally change. It’s tiring watching about what’s wrong with our country without action. Stand up for what you believe in.

  12. Danny Defoor on August 14th, 2011 at 6:52 am

    This is a very good tips especially to those new to blogosphere, brief and accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article.

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