The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday tossed out part of a Texas law banning “improper photography or visual recording” – surreptitious images acquired in public for sexual gratification, often called “upskirting” or “downblousing” – as a violation of federal free-speech rights and an improper restriction on a person’s right to individual thoughts.

In an 8-1 ruling, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said photos, like paintings, films and books, are “inherently expressive” and, therefore, are protected by the First Amendment. The opinion supported a previous decision by the San Antonio-based 4th Court of Appeals.

“The camera is essentially the photographer’s pen and paintbrush,” the opinion written by Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said. “A person’s purposeful creation of photographs and visual recordings is entitled to the same First Amendment protection as the photographs and visual recordings themselves.”

The appeal questioned why some free speech can be treated as unlawful behavior in Texas. Peter Linzer, who teaches constitutional and First Amendment law at the University of Houston Law Center, said: “It’s hard to see how you could make taking a picture a crime.”

Written by Cindy George
Read more at Houston Chronicle

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