Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel for the investigation of William Jefferson Clinton, Newt Gingrich (R-GA), the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Steven Case, the Chairman of the Board of American On Line should not be prosecuted for (a) corrupting the morals of minors because they allowed the grand jury testimony of Monica Lewinsky to appear on the internet where it has been accessible to minors or for (b) violating the principle of separation of church and state by introducing into the internet testimony of witnesses before the Starr grand jury who invoked passages of Biblical scripture while testifying.
The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads: Congress shall make NO law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Hence, according to the First Amendment, Starr, Gingrich and Case cannot be prosecuted for their expression of speech via the world wide web.
The Internet is a form of press: a publicly accessible means for obtaining accurate information in combination with technology. Children in school and homes across the country are learning how to use this tool to gain information of any type whether it be for educational or entertainment purposes. Unfortunately, as fantastic as this tool may be, it does have its share of useless material, which happen to include elements of a crude and lewd nature, as does the general printed speech. As some may argue that the three gentlemen should be prosecuted for allowing the grand testimony of Monica Lewinsky to appear on the Internet, where it may be accessible to minors, I would have to sustain that it is their right to publish this material.
Moreover, a child surfing the ‘net’ and finding the Lewinsky testimony is just as likely as a child rummaging through his parents’ magazines and discovering a PLAYBOY or HUSTLER. Is it necessary to prosecute Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt as well?
The Starr report, in its entirety, is lengthy with the sexual incidents in the mid-section of the report and spanning only three of the 46 screens. Because of its location, it is doubtful that a child would take the time to read through the legality of the independent counsel and the constitutional impeachment provisions before “getting to the good parts.” Furthermore, American On Line flashes a disclaimer before the introduction and the contents of the report are displayed.
The unfortunate scenario: a child logs on to the net, types in www.washintonpost.com and discovers that the president did ‘bad things’ with someone other than the first lady. Perhaps this child will somehow be corrupted on views such as sanctity of marriage or adultery for the rest of his life. Corrupting morals is not a crime. It happens and it is a part of life, at least here it is the honest truth and not something that is depicted by a sleazy Hollywood director.
This also brings us to the concept of intent. Did Starr, Gingrich, and Case intend for children to access this report? Does Hefner and Flynt intend on children to read their ‘literature’? The answer to both questions is no. Even if corrupting morals were a crime, the aforementioned gentlemen did not intend for the result, hence, the plainiff’s argument would not hold water in the Supreme Court.
The independent counsel did his job of investigating the case he was selected to investigate. In fact, he was chosen out of three other attorneys The House Speaker is using his constitutional right in that the House of Representatives have the sole power of impeachment. Lastly, America On Line is a private corporation. Hence, the Chairman cannot be held
individually accountable for actions or speech by the corporation as a whole. Furthermore, because the Internet can be counted as a form of PRESS, AOL is free to publish as they wish.
Kenneth Starr, Newt Gingrich, and Steven Case should not be prosecuted for violating the principle of separation of church and state because they introduced into the internet, testimony of witnesses before the Starr grand jury who invoked passages of Biblical scripture while testifying. The first sentence of the First Amendment