On Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court will thrust itself into a debate as old as the Internet: Is the web a place where ideas and opinions, often vile, sometimes damaging, should be allowed to flow unencumbered? Or should there be some means of identifying defamatory speech and purging it from the Internet?
|A book Texas Supreme Court justices might want to peruse between now and tomorrow morning.|
At first glance, the case they will hear is a rather parochial dispute between Robert Kinney, an Austin businessman, and Andrew Harrison Barnes, his former boss. Barnes, according to court documents, posted comments on a couple of websites he runs suggesting Kinney had been involved in a kickback and bribery scheme. Kinney got mad and sued Barnes, demanding that he be forced to remove the posts.
A court in Travis County dismissed the case. A state appeals court upheld the decision, ruling that "a permanent injunction requiring the removal of the alleged defamatory statement from Barnes' website would act as prior restraint on constitutionally protected speech."More »