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Divorced Dad's Blog Becomes A Test for the First Amendment

A Pennsylvania man is claiming a judge violated his freedom of speech and his right to due process by ordering him to shut down thepsychoexwife.com, a blog he began in 2007 to discuss his bitter divorce and child custody battle.

Back in November 2010, I wrote a blog entry entitled Social Networking Sites Such as Facebook and MySpace Can Be Your Ex Partner's Worst Nightmare. This latest on-line blog appears to be the next step in using a person's on-line statements or persona against them.

In any case I am retained on, especially family law, the first thing I do is run an on-line search in an attempt to locate anything that can possibly be used against the opposing party. Time and time again, this has proven to be an invaluable tool I use to attack the creditability of the opposing party. As an example, I am currently involved in a child support dispute case wherein the opposing party, the mother, has an on-line employment profile where she calls herself a "liar" and declares that the cause that is most important to her is to "increase alimony two fold." Win, lose, or draw, this is a tool to attack her creditability, since a large part of her claim heavily rests on her word, I hope to show her word is worthless.

However, all this does beg the question, were, if at all, does freedom of speech end? Free speech case law permits the government to impose a wide range of restrictions on a similarly wide variety of forms of speech.

Over the past four decades, free speech jurisprudence has spawned concepts and categories of varying scope and dimension. It has become common for the courts to distinguish between time, place, and manner restrictions on speech and absolute bans; between content-based and content-neutral restrictions; between viewpoint-based and viewpoint-neutral restrictions; and between direct and incidental burdens on speech. The courts have also developed tests for governmental restrictions on commercial speech, for symbolic conduct or mixed speech and conduct cases,7 as well as for regulating speech in various kinds of government forums.

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So, was the Pennsylvania judge correct when he shutdown thepsychoexwife.com? What I tell people about free speech is this. You may be free to saw what you want, but the consequences of your words are almost never free. If you post on-line watch out, someone could be watching, just waiting to use your words against you.

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