Plaintiff Welcomes Supreme Court Decision in ACLU v. Reno


Contact: Jonathan Wallace

NEW YORK, June 26, 1997--Jonathan Wallace, a plaintiff in the ACLU v. Reno case, welcomed the Supreme Court ruling today.

"Its a sweeping victory," said Wallace, publisher of The Ethical Spectacle and co-author with Mark Mangan of Sex, Laws and Cyberspace (New York: Henry Holt: 1996) on Internet censorship. "The Court has accorded the Internet the broadest possible protection."

In the ruling, the seven justice majority agreed with the District Court that the Internet is not "invasive" like broadcast media and cable. While a child may stumble on an indecent television program, accessing content on the Internet requires too many steps for society to be equally concerned about the Net. Additionally, the Court said, warning screens and the availability of other measures to individual parents make the Communications Decency Act unneccessary and therefore unconstitutional.

"This means that the Court is prepared to treat the Internet like print media, which has always been considered sacred in First Amendment law," Wallace said.

He congratulated the ACLU attorneys and other lawyers who represented the plaintiffs. "They worked hard and did a tremendous job on this, educating the District Court and the Supreme Court in the meaning of the new medium," Wallace said.

The Ethical Spectacle is a monthly Web-based newsletter focusing on the intersection, or collision, of ethics, law and politics in our society. Wallace joined the ACLU case as a plaintiff because of his concern that socially valuable material in the publication, such as a compilation of Holocaust material might be considered indecent under the Communications Decency Act.

The full text of the decision can be found on the Center for Democracy and Technology web pages.