Courts Gags Divorced Father

An interesting case highlighted by Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy: a court bans a father from making any comments about his ex-wife in a public forum.

If the father says anything about the mother in public, he could be sent to jail for contempt of court. The order isn’t limited to banning libelous statements (though I think even such a much narrower ban would itself pose constitutional problems, especially under Pennsylvania law), nor is it even limited to statements about minor children (though even that sort of order strikes me as constitutionally impermissible). Rather, the court order categorically orders the removal of a Web site, and prohibits all public statements — factually accurate or not — by one person about another person.

I guess in Pennsylvania the First Amendment doesn’t count for much anymore.

An archived version of the site that started it all can be found here.

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  1. #1 by jonolan on Tue 26 Jul 2011 - 10:58

    I read the transcript and it’s not as bad as Volokh makes it out to be. It’s not even that, except for the medium involved, odd in the context of a custody battle.

    Family court judges have made often similar rulings about one parent seriously bad-mouthing the other in front of- or to the children during such battles. In the past though, it hasn’t involved the web but has involved direct speech and telephone calls.

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