In another example of the kind of nanny state laws that liberals love, New Jersey is re-examining a statute outlawing adults from cursing in front of children.
The 70-year-old law became newsworthy in 2009, when a New Jersey father accused of sexually assaulting his 13-year-old son was allowed to plead to a lesser charge — the provision that forbids using “profane, indecent, or obscene language” in front of children, Yahoo News reported.
Now the father, John Tate, and the American Civil Liberties Union are fighting to vacate his guilty plea by challenging the antiquated law, citing First Amendment protections.
“It’s hard to imagine that the use of a swear word could equal a felony,” Tate’s attorney, Michael Pastacaldi, said in his argument, according to the New Jersey Law Journal.
“Curse words cannot be criminalized,” ACLU attorney C.J. Griffin added.
The ACLU has successfully worked to overturn anti-swearing laws in other states, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Yahoo News reported.
Some might say the real crime was allowing Tate to plea to such a ridiculous law when he was accused of sexually assaulting a minor in his care.
Assistant Morris County Prosecutor John McNamara Jr. argued that the court needed to think about the original charges, which could have put Tate in prison for 20 years.
The shame here is that an accused molester is championing what really is a strong First Amendment argument. Limiting Americans’ constitutional rights in the name of punishment isn’t healthy for any democracy. Let’s hope the courts see it that way, and don’t get clouded by the Tate case history.
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