Friday, August 02, 2013

The way were...Federal judge strikes down Miami's anti-smut law

U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler

 30 years ago this week....

From the Miami Herald, Aug. 3, 1983:

by Peter Slevin

Though well-intended, the City of Miami's effort to outlaw soft pornography on cable television clearly is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech and due process of law, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in Miami.

U.S. District Judge William M. Hoeveler , in a ruling that may become a national test case, prohibited the city from enforcing its Jan. 13 ban on cable indecency. He upheld the subscribers' right to receive -- and the cable programmers' right to transmit -- the shows they please.

The judge said he sympathized with the city's "well-meant effort" to regulate R-rated movies on pay TV, but he concluded that the provisions of the ordinance "exceed the limits of proper constitutional action."

"It is difficult to predict where our tolerance of licentiousness will end," Hoeveler wrote. "The 'end,' however, cannot be induced by use of a blunderbuss. The understandable anxieties of the city fathers cannot provide the basis for approving legislation which in its reach exceeds the dangers they contemplate."
Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre said the city would probably appeal, telling the Miami News:
"My aim and that of the city commission is to rid the city of parasitic diseases that feed off obscenity [and] indecency. 
"Just as the moral fiber of Rome was going down, I think the same thing is happening in this country. If anything, the peddlers of smut have much more to work with now than in the days of Rome."

Miami News, Aug. 2, 1983.

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