Monday, February 1, 1999

House Manager Henry Hyde Endorses the Principle of Constitutional Annoyance on Senate Floor



Clinton D. Fein
President, ApolloMedia Corporation
Telephone: 415/552-7655


ApolloMedia Exploring Legal Steps to Introduce Testimony to the Supreme Court

February 1, 1999, San Francisco -- An unprecedented political and legal situation last week saw House Representative and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Henry Hyde, in his role of House Manager in President Bill Clinton's impeachment hearing, endorse the constitutional principle presented by's parent company ApolloMedia. ApolloMedia has filed an appeal before the United States Supreme Court against Attorney General Janet Reno and over which Chief Justice William Rhenquist would preside.

The Supreme Court is to consider whether to hear an appeal to a ruling issued by a federal court that refused to strike down a constitutional challenge to the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that makes it a felony to transmit communications over the Internet that are "indecent" with intent to "annoy". Mr Hyde's comment came in the wake of frustration by the Senate over the case put forward by the House Managers and their insistence that Monica Lewinsky, among others, testify in person before the Senate. Many senators have already decried the salacious details of the evidence, the articulation of which has been supposedly banned by the Senate. House Managers have agreed to comply with the stipulation.

"I know, oh do I know what an annoyance we are in the bosom of this great body" stated the much-maligned Republican Representative from Illinois on Friday, January 22, 1999 in a terse presentation before the Senate, stating the intention of the House Managers. "But we're a constitutional annoyance and I remind you of that fact."

While some argue that the banning of "salacious" material by the Senate would deprive the President of his constitutional right to assert his First Amendment protections as well as his constitutional right to a fair trial, others argue that the Starr Report authored by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr is already considered indecent by some people in some communities. Public officials, academic institutions and experts from most major media organizations have consistently referred to the report as pornographic.

The House Manager's assertion that transmission of potentially indecent testimony is constitutionally protected, was endorsed by a comment made to MSNBC by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch that Presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal's deposition might include some detailed sexual questions. The Senate and Prosecutors' approach is causing dissension within both parties as well as within the ranks of religious organizations which many view as pursuing a political agenda that takes precedent over a religious agenda.

A rift has emerged among traditionally allied conservative forces - educators and parents particularly - who fear the transmission of material they consider indecent or harmful to children on the one hand, and conservative forces intent on asserting a constitutional right to transmit any communications, including indecent ones, with a deliberate intent to annoy in the pursuit of the impeachment of the President on the other.

ApolloMedia has consistently stated that the transmission of "indecent" material intended to "annoy" another is constitutionally protected. The company is exploring legal steps to introduce the testimony to the Supreme Court in a response to the Justice Department's defense to be presented to the court by February 8, 1999.


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