What Are Some Laws Governing Censorship in America?


Quick Answer

Censorship laws in the United States address matters that the government considers unduly controversial, obscene or indecent, including censorship pertaining to things such as abortion, entertainment, prisoner correspondence, students' speech and the Internet, states West's Encyclopedia of American Law. In American law, censorship refers to the government banning or altering what the populace sees or hears, and intrinsically ties in with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, explains HG.org.

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Full Answer

American law occasionally allows for censorship of speech when entities are federally funded, explains West's Encyclopedia of American Law. An example is the case of Rust v. Sullivan, in which a judge ruled that the government can prohibit abortion counseling in federally financed clinics. Likewise, if exercising the First Amendment has the potential to lead to harm, censorship may be permitted. This is true in cases such as prisoner's mail, which can be censored if prison officials have cause to believe that the correspondence may lead to an escape plan, that it may give false and detrimental information about prison conditions, or if it is obscene or threatening in nature.

Censorship laws exist to prevent children and adults unknowingly or unwillingly viewing obscene material, notes West's Encyclopedia of American Law. "Obscene" amounts to sexual imagery that is clearly offensive in nature and is void of any scientific, political, literary or artistic value.

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