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The (almost) unbelievable case of censorship in Colorado

Protecting children? Hardly.

I’m sorry I missed this earlier. But when I lived in Denver, I would often see pro-life activists in peaceful protests around the city — outside clinics, as well as other buildings. Well, in March of 2006, during one such protest in front Denver‚??s St. John‚??s Cathedral, a church that now supports abortion rights, protesters, as they often do, held signs with slogans and others with pictures of aborted fetuses.

In the name of protecting children (and please take in the repulsive¬†irony), a lawsuit was filed, alleging that the protesters were a private nuisance. It sought to enjoin any public displays of ‚??gruesome‚?Ě images.

The Colorado Appellate Court upheld the injunction. If a Supreme Court does not overturn the ruling, ¬†individuals can no longer display “large posters or similar displays depicting gruesome images of mutilated fetuses or dead bodies,‚?Ě Denver will have set a terrible precedent on freedom of expression.

Now, a number of groups have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review and overturn the ban (Professor Eugene Volokh of the¬†‚??Volokh Conspiracy,‚?̬†drafted the petition).

I don‚??t know if these types of signs are effective, but I do know legitimate political expression when I see it. Certainly, the gruesomeness of the photos is expressing concern over the gruesomeness of the procedure. If this ban survives (and authorities treat all protests equally) in Denver, a Jew would no longer be able to protest neo-Nazis with images of the Holocaust and anti-war protesters would no longer be able to hold up images depicting ¬†the real violence of war.

As Andrew McCarthy points out:

As the AFLC amicus brief¬†explains, this flies in the face of First Amendment precedent holding that the Constitution does not permit the suppression of legitimate political expression ‚??solely to protect the young from ideas or images that [the government] thinks unsuitable for them.‚?Ě Given that we are not living in a sharia state, moreover, political argument may not be prohibited merely because it expresses ideas that members of society may find ‚??offensive or disagreeable‚?Ě ‚?? as the Supreme Court reaffirmed in the 2011 case of¬†Snyder v. Phelps.

Then, of course, there are few things more offensive or disagreeable than courts limiting the right  of Americans to freely express themselves.

Follow David Harsanyi on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

Written By

David Harsanyi is the former editor of Human Events. He is a syndicated columnists and his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Weekly Standard, National Review, Reason, New York Post, and numerous other publications and is the author of ‚??Obama‚??s Four Horsemen: The Disasters Unleashed by Obama‚??s Reelection‚?Ě (Regnery, 2013) and ‚??Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children‚?Ě (Doubleday/Broadway, 2007).