True Crime Trading Cards

TitleTrue Crime Trading Cards
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsLadenson, R
Corporate Authorsof Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, IIT
Date Published02/1996
PublisherCenter for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, Illinois Institute of Technology
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsbusiness , FREEDOM of speech
AbstractIn October of 1994 a federal magistrate determined that Nassau County on Long Island in New York violated the first amendment to the United States Constitution when it passed a law making it a crime to sell minors trading cards with pictures of serial killers, mass murderers, and other 'Heinous criminals." The law was prompted by a wave of protests of victims' rights groups in 1992 after a company named Eclipse Enterprises began to produce a series of "True Crime" trading cards, which included pictures of Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy, along with historically famous murderers such as Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and other famous criminals, such as Mafia leaders and bank robbers. The law made it a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine to sell someone under the age of seventeen trading cards that depict a "heinous crime, an element of a heinous crime, or a heinous criminal, which is harmful to minors." Does the Nassau County law violate the right of free speech either of people who sell "True Crime" trading cards to minors, or of minors who purchase them? If so, why? If not, why not?
NotesCase study from the February 3, 1996 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. Copyright, Robert Ladenson, Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, Illinois Institute of Technology, 1996.
Full Text