An interesting First Amendment battle is taking place in New Jersey’s Supreme Court, where its judges are reconsidering the merits of a 70-year-old statute that makes repeated cursing in front of children a criminal offense for adults.
Arguments were heard on Monday in the case of John Tate, a man who was accused of a sexual assault on his 13-year-old foster son in 2009. Tate faced various charges, but he accepted a plea bargain to a lesser offense.
Tate was found guilty of violating New Jersey statutes 9:6:1 and 9:6-3, which make it a fourth-degree crime for any parent, guardian, or person to habitually use “profane, indecent, or obscene language” in front of a minor because it could affect their morals. The law falls under the state’s child abuse statutes.
Tate had served three years before accepting the plea bargain and he has finished his incarceration. Tate also made other appeals to have his plea withdrawn before this current challenge.