Quickie News: Town gets sued for banning psychics

This post introduces a new feature of this blog: “Quickie News.”  Because I’m a lawyer and have to be precise with my language, I should explain that by “Quickie News” I mean a very brief post to inform my readers of some science/skeptical/legal news when I don’t have time for a lengthy, explanatory post.  I don’t mean news about couples engaging in short-lived coitus.

For some of the Quickie News posts, I’ll try to write a full, explanatory post later on.  I may, as I will do here, add a “quickie analysis” just to get things going.

The honorable subject of my first Quickie News is the town of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is being sued for prohibiting psychics from plying their trade within the town limits.

Quickie analysis: The psychics have a good case, especially as to the “prior restraint” on their speech.  It’s almost impossible for the government to legally prohibit (enjoin) speech before it happens, as was famously described in the Pentagon Papers case.  Authorities would have a much better shot at charging the psychics with a crime or violation of their state’s unfair trade practices law, if they have one.

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4 Comments

Filed under Local government, Psychics, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Quickie News: Town gets sued for banning psychics

  1. If I were in the position the town was in, I would take whatever conciliatory steps I could to minimize the monetary damages, repeal the law banning psychics, but then come right back with some sort of psychics-are-a-blight-on-the-poor marketing campaign. And/or put in a new law requiring psychics to very clearly proclaim that they really, really, really don’t have any psychic powers whatsoever both before and after every reading.


    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  2. =8)-DX

    “I don’t mean news about couples engaging in short-lived coitus.”
    HAHAHA I was in stiches a full minute at that line, preceded as it was by a perfectly worded explanation from a lawyer on what he really meant.
    I hope you keep on writing this blog, with this material you should get quite a few readers from the sceptical and inquisitive community!

  3. Dafydd

    Quick question from a non-American non-lawyer: rather than being a free speech issue, couldn’t the town make the case on the basis that the psychic’s business is inherently fraudulent? Or would the fact that those operating the business genuinely believe (or claim to genuinely believe) that the psychic’s powers are real insulate them from that argument?

  4. The psychics should have seen this coming. Oh wait……….

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