'Revenge Porn' Isn't Free Speech: Vermont Supreme Court Upholds State Law

Sep 5, 2018

Legal and cultural norms regard sharing nude or indecent photos of someone without their consent as a violation of privacy. But when it's done to shame or humiliate that person, Vermont law says nonconsensual pornography—so-called "revenge porn"—is a crime. Now a Vermont Supreme Court ruling has overturned a lower court's decision, bolstering the state's law and deeming it constitutional.

In 2015 state legislators defined sharing nonconsensual pornography a specific category of crime in the state, arguing it fell within permitted exceptions to the First Amendment's broad protection of free speech.

But lawyers defending a woman charged under that 2015 law challenged it, and despite a lower court ruling it unconstitutional, last month the Vermont Supreme Court ruled the state's law against nonconsensual pornography should stand.

Eric Goldman, law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and legal blogger, joined Vermont Edition to discuss the court's decision and how the Vermont ruling could have ramifications across the country. 

Broadcast on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.