Michael Jackson wants Jay Leno to stop making jokes about him, but the “Tonight Show” host argues the First Amendment prevents public figures from stopping someone from saying anything that public figure does not like.
Leno, as a potential witness in the case, is fighting the gag order that prevents potential witnesses from commenting publicly on the case.
Jackson’s legal team says the gag order should apply to Leno because the jokes have no “important social or political value.”
In a filing Wednesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, attorneys for Leno said his thoughts on the case should be protected by law.
“Indeed, it is simply false that Mr. Leno’s use of humor to engage in social commentary is somehow less valuable and worthy of First Amendment protection than other forms of speech,” the filing said.
Leno attorneys pointed at two cases, including the 1988 case in which the Rev. Jerry Falwell sued Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt for publishing a cartoon suggesting the minister lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse. The Supreme Court ruled that even pornographic jokes are protected by the First Amendment.