Report: First amendment being upheld

The courts largely have done a good job over the past year protecting free speech, particularly on the Internet, according to The Media Institute's annual report on the state of the First Amendment to be released Tuesday.

"As technology has revolutionized the way information is transmitted and received, there has been a generally reassuring willingness of the courts to afford First Amendment protection to the newer forms of technology," writes noted First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams in the introduction. Abrams focuses on the Supreme Court's decision last year that Playboy Entertainment Group is constitutionally allowed to transmit scrambled adult programming over pay-cable networks.

In awarding Playboy that victory, Abrams writes, "the Supreme Court not only protected First Amendment interests against serious competing values, but did so in an opinion likely to be cited in First Amendment cases well outside the telecommunications area."

The book offers 54 summaries of the most important First Amendment issues of 2000, written by several experts such as Robert Corn-Revere, the Washington, D.C., attorney who argued Playboy's case before the Supreme Court and Robert M. O'Neil, founding director of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, Va.