Questions and Answers about Colorado's Amendment 16 WHAT DOES THE AMENDMENT SAY? On Novemb

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Questions and Answers about Colorado's Amendment 16 WHAT DOES THE AMENDMENT SAY? On November 8, 1994, Colorado voters will see the following question on the ballot: AMENDMENT 16 SHALL THERE BE AN AMENDMENT TO THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION STATING THAT THE STATE AND ANY CITY, TOWN, CITY AND COUNTY, OR COUNTY MAY CONTROL THE PROMOTION OF OBSCENITY TO THE FULL EXTENT PERMITTED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, AND THEREBY PREVENTING THE COLORADO COURTS FROM INTERPRETING THE RIGHT OF FREE EXPRESSION MORE BROADLY THAN UNDER THE FIRST AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION IN THE AREA OF OBSCENITY? WHO PUT THIS ON THE BALLOT? A group called the Coalition Helping to Insure Laws for Dignity, or "CHILD," circulated initiative petitions to place this measure on the 1994 ballot. WHY DID THEY PUT THIS ON THE BALLOT? The proponents are motivated by their belief that child pornography and obscenity will be easier to prosecute in the State of Colorado under Amendment 16. They want to redefine obscenity to include books, movies, and videos that are now constitutionally protected. IS CHILD PORNOGRAPHY PROSECUTED IN COLORADO? YES. Child pornography is a felony in Colorado, punishable by up to 32 years in prison. Amendment 16 will not change the child pornography laws. It doesn't toughen the law, nor will in increase the number of prosecutions. This is simply an emotional issue that the proponents are using to support the passage of this amendment. IS OBSCENITY PROSECUTED IN COLORADO? YES. Promotion of obscenity is a crime in Colorado, and the Colorado Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of this criminal statue. Colorado law mirrors the guidelines outlined in the United States Supreme Court case _Miller vs. California_. District Attorneys in Colorado already have the tools they need to prosecute obscenity and child pornography. WILL AMENDMENT 16 PREVENT CHILDREN FROM EXPOSURE TO OBSCENE OR SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIALS? NO. Current laws in Colorado prohibit the promotion and distribution of sexually explicit material to children, and Amendment 16 won't change that. Additionally, state law gives local school boards the right to determine which materials are used in classroom sand available in school libraries. Similarly, counties and municipalities use zoning ordinances to keep certain types of businesses away from schools, parks and churches. Amendment 16 isn't necessary to protect children. What it really does is limit the types of legal materials available to adults. WILL AMENDMENT 16 REDUCE SEX CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN? NO. Research does not support a cause-and-effect connection between pornography or obscenity and violence against women and children. Although some studies have suggested a link between pornography and sex crimes, such as the 1986 U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese's Commission on Pornography, these studies have been criticized as being biased in favor of censorship. Simplistic explanations like "Porn made me do it," are not an excuse for criminal behavior. WHAT DO OTHER STATE CONSTITUTIONS SAY ABOUT OBSCENITY? No other state in the nation has the wording of Amendment 16 in its state constitution. All 50 states agree that obscenity lacks constitutional free speech protections. WHAT DOES THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION SAY ABOUT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION? The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech..." WHAT DOES THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION SAY ABOUT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION? Article II, Section 10 of the Colorado Constitution states: "No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech; and every person shall be free to speak, write or publish whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuse of that liberty..." HOW DOES THE U.S. SUPREME COURT DEFINE OBSCENITY? In _Miller vs. California_, the U.S. Supreme Court defined obscenity as those expressions which: 1. appeal to a prurient interest 2. are patently offensive 3. and lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value HOW DOES THE COLORADO SUPREME COURT DEFINE OBSCENITY? The Colorado Supreme Court has defined obscenity as those expressions which: 1. appeal to a prurient interest 2. are patently offensive 3. and lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION AND THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AS INTERPRETED BY THE COURTS? Both the Colorado and U.S. Constitutions protect free speech. Obscenity has always been outside the range of protected speech. The difference is in the interpretation of the phrase "patently offensive." The U.S. Supreme Court has defined "patently offensive" to be those expressions which the community cannot accept or tolerate. The Colorado Supreme Court has said that the "tolerance standard" provides greater protection for freedom of speech than does the "acceptance standard." There are many things that a community may not be willing to accept, but can still be tolerated. The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that the Colorado Constitution requires a statewide standards of tolerance so that all Coloradans enjoy equal freedom of expression throughout the state. WHY IS A STATEWIDE STANDARD OF TOLERANCE BETTER FOR COLORADO? With 267 municipalities and 63 counties in Colorado, the potential would exist for 330 different standards. Without a statewide standard of tolerance, distributors of books, movies and videos would have difficulty complying with the regulations of each community. What might be available in one community could very well be illegal in another. To avoid prosecution under conflicting standards, distributors will be forced to only make available those materials accepted under the most restrictive laws. HOW CAN COLORADO OFFER MORE PROTECTION FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION THAN THE U.S. CONSTITUTION? The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reserves rights to the states. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that a state can choose to offer greater protections through their state constitution. The U.S. Constitution merely sets a minimum guarantee. The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that our constitution provides more protection for free speech. Most states have reached the same conclusion. WHAT HAPPENS IF WE VOTE YES? The Colorado Constitution will be amended and local government will be given the power to censor according to community standards. WHAT HAPPENS IF WE VOTE NO? Nothing. The Colorado Constitution remains exactly the same. No new restrictions on your freedom of expression will take place. WHO IS OPPOSING AMENDMENT 16? Colorado Citizens Against Censorship is leading the campaign to defeat this constitutional amendment. CCAC is a coalition of authors, bookstores, video stores, publishers, distributors, librarians, artists, health care providers and associations that represent these groups, and other groups that value civil liberties, constitutional rights, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. HOW CAN I PRESERVE OUR COLORADO CONSTITUTION? FIGHT AMENDMENT 16. To volunteer, or make a financial contribution, contact: Colorado Citizens Against Censorship Joyce Meskis, President Fofi Mendez, Campaign Manager Post Office Box 18Z Denver CO 80218 telephone: 303-863-9914 fax: 303-863-0814 Paid for by Colorado Citizens Against Censorship, James Joy, Treasurer ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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