The Preliminary Injunction Hearing is Next Week

The first two days of the preliminary injunction hearing in ACLU v. Reno will take place March 21 and 22 before a three-judge panel in Philadelphia. The ACLU will present the case against the CDA and several of the plaintiffs will testify. The companion case spearheaded by the Center for Democracy and Telecommunications will proceed at the same time.

There are now four anti-CDA lawsuits in federal court: the ACLU and CDT cases joined together in Philadelphia; a case brought by the American Reporter ezine in the Southern District of New York; and a case brought by an abortion rights organization in the Eastern District of New York, specifically targeting the Comstock language which prohibits the transmission of abortion-related information online.

Meanwhile, representative Anna Eshoo of California has introduced a bill which would replace the CDA's vague indecency language with a "harmful to minors" standard. I have just seen this, but, on a quick review, it appear to be an acceptable solution for several reasons: it is really an obscenity law, targeted at material which, under the Miller test, would be obscene for minors; it applies a standard that is already being applied to print media to cyberspace, instead of creating a separate standard for cyberspace, as the CDA does; and it excludes from its ambit material which has significant scientific, literary, artistic or political value, while the CDA would criminalize such material.

Longtime CDA opponent Senator Leahy has also introduced a bill which would simply repeal the CDA.

After the first wave of media coverage, which prsesented the CDA infuriatingly as a "cybersmut" issue, follow-on coverage seems to be picking up better on the freedom of speech issues. There are still significant landmines in the path--the Christian Coalition, resting on its laurels, has not really begun to fight yet--but I am hopeful that events are shaping up to a repeal or judicial overruling of the CDA.