ACLU v. Reno--The Case to Overturn the CDA

*Updated June 26, 1997*

WE WON!!!!

The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's opinion invalidating the CDA. Here is Jonathan Wallace's analysis of the decision.

Here is a friend of the court brief, filed with the Supreme Court. It argues that the proper analogy for cyberspace is the printing press, and that online speech should receive the same level of protection granted under the First Amendment to books and magazines.

Last year...
In February of 1996--the same day that President Clinton signed the Communications Decency Act into law--the ACLU filed suit against government. (A brief overview of the issue.)

On June 12, 1996 ...
3-0, The Panel of Federal Judges Struck Down the CDA as Unconstitutional.
Here's a copy of the opinion.

(Some excerpts from the opinion.)

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CDA Analysis
The Trial
Another Trial
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CDA Analysis

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

"No law" means "no law"--Justice Hugo Black

The Trial

Between the two of us, Mark Mangan and I have attended every day of the preliminary injunction hearing in federal court in Philadelphia. Here are our reports from the six days:

[March 21] [March 22] [April 1] [April 12] [April 15]
The Final Arguments--May 10:
[Part I] [Part II] [Part III]

Another Trial

American Reporter v. Reno
We also followed this similar suit against Reno filed by Joe Shea of The American Reporter and heard in New York City. Although Shea contested the constitutionality of the CDA in much of the same way that the plantiffs in Philadelphia did, he purposely did not want to conjoin his case with the ACLU's.

The judges in this case have recently handed down their decision:
another 3-0 vote striking down this bogus law as unconstitutional.
Here is a copy of the opinion.



The Internet Censorship FAQ

A Free Speech Glossary

A Gallery of Indecency

Essays and Reports

Relevant Links

Here are a few other excellent sites covering Congress' attempt at online censorship:
Censorship in the USA by Peter Meyer
An Obscenity from Congress by Alan Lewine
Fight-Censorship Archives by Declan McCullagh

These organizations are intimately involved in the battle for free speech on the Internet:
Voters Telecommunications Watch
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Center for Democracy and Technology

by Jonathan Wallace and Mark Mangan

"Required reading for anyone interested in free speech in modern society"
-- New York Times Sunday Book Review (May 26,1996)

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