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Chief Justice William Rehnquist (Character)
from The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
Isaacman: [Addressing the Supreme Court] Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court one of the cherished ideas is that we hold in this country is that there should be uninhibited public debate and freedom of speech the question you have before you today is whether a public' figure's right to protection from emotional distress should outweigh the public interest in allowing every citizen of this country to freely express their views
Justice Scalia: What was the view discussed in exhibit A?
Isaacman: To begin with this a parody of a known Campari ad
Justice Scalia: I understand
Isaacman: Also it was a satire of a public figure of Jerry Fallwell who in this case who really a prime candidate for such a satire because his such an unlikely person to appear in a liquor ad this is a person we're used to seeing at the pulpit The Bible in hand preaching with a famously beatific smile on his face
Justice Scalia: But what's the public interest you're describing? There's some interest in making him look ludicrous?
Isaacman: Yes there is public interest in making Jerry Fallwell look Ludacris in so far there is public interest in having Hustler Magazine express the point of view that Jerry Fallwell is full of BS and Hustler Magazine has every right to express this view they have the right to say to somebody who has actively campaigned against our magazine who has told people not to buy it who has publicly said it poisons the minds of Americans who in addition told people sex out of wedlock is immoral that they shouldn't drink Hustler Magazine has a first amendment right to respond to these comments by saying "Jerry Fallwell is full of BS", it says lets deflate this "stuffed shirt" and bring him down to "our level", "our level" in this case admittedly a lower level than most people would like to be brought to
Chief Justice William Rehnquist: The first amendment is not everything, it's a very important value but it's not the only value in our society what about another value that says good people should enter public life and public service? The rule you give us if you stand for public office or become a public figure in any way you cannot protect your or indeed you mother in a parody of committing incest with her in an outhouse, do you think George Washington would have stood for public office if that was the consequence?
Isaacman: It's interesting you mentioned George Washington because very recently I saw a political cartoon that's over two hundred years old it depicts George Washington riding on a donkey being led by a man and the caption suggests "this man is leading an ass to Washington"
Chief Justice William Rehnquist: I can handle that, I think George can handle that but that's a far cry from committing incest with your mother in an outhouse there's no line in-between the two?
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