Why did the Supreme Court strike down New York’s ‘Son of Sam’ law?

Friday, June 4, 2004

The Court struck down New York’s “Son of Sam” law in 1991 in Simon & Schuster Inc. v. New York State Crime Victims Bd. because it found the law to be “significantly overinclusive.” The Court reasoned that the law would apply to any book in which the author makes even a passing reference to a past crime. The Court noted that the law technically could apply to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Confessions of St. Augustine and Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience if it had been on the books when these works were published. The law simply reached too far, covered too many works and was not “narrowly tailored,” the Court said.