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CDA Lawsuits: Previous Updates

CDA Lawsuits: Old News

March 19, 1997

The ACLU argued before the Supreme Court in support of upholding the lower court’s ruling against the CDA.

February 20, 1997

Both the ACLU and the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition responded to the Justice Department’s brief and asked the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s ruling against the Communications Decency Act. The ACLU praised the Internet’s potential for promoting diversity of communication and rebutted several of the defendants’ claims, such as the “fearful parent” argument that suggests the CDA may actually promote use of the Internet! The CIEC pointed out that the CDA was an attempt to impose the model of a broadcast medium on the more democratic Internet.

January 22, 1997

The defendants in the CDA constitionality case filed their first Supreme Court brief justifying the Communications Decency Act. The Supreme Court also set the date when they will start hearing arguments in the case as March 19, 1997.

December 6, 1996

The Supreme Court agreed to review the lower court’s decision on the CDA. The American Civil Liberties Union had filed a motion asking for a summary affirmation (that is, to refuse further argument and support the district court’s ruling).

October 13, 1996

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion before the Supreme Court asking for a summary affirmation of the district court’s ruling. This would essentially indicate that the Supreme Court agrees with the June 12 ruling of the Federal Court in Philadelphia and does not consider it worthwhile hearing the case all over again. The ruling that overturned the CDA would then be final. The ACLU is basing its motion on “the court’s extensive and largely undisputed findings regarding the nature of cyberspace” and a view that their decision is “plainly correct.” The ACLU claims that the Department of Justice “fails to raise any legitimate argument against summary affirmance.”

July, 1996

The Department of Justice appealed the decision handed down by a Federal Court in Philadelphia on June 12 that agreed with the ACLU, CPSR, and many other plaintiffs that the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional.

June 12, 1996

On Wednesday, June 12, 9:00 a.m. EST, a Federal Court in Philadelphia ruled that the the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional. This culminates a court challenge by the ACLU and many other organizations, including CPSR, in defense of freedom of speech. The trial involved an extensive educational component, which clearly paid off in the judge’s decision. They essentially agreed with the plaintiff’s claim that the Act was vague and overly broad.

Feb. 27, 1996

The two biggest lawsuits opposing the CDA, ACLU vs. Reno, and ALA vs. DOJ (the CIEC lawsuit) were consolidated today.

Feb. 26, 1996

CIEC, the coalition spearheaded by the CDT, American Library Association, and a whole slew of (unaffiliated) major on-line service providers and organizations, filed their lawsuit today. Details above.

Feb. 24, 1996

The ACLU has announced that they have reached a deal with the Dept. of Justice to prevent prosecutions under both the “indecency” and “patently offensive” offenses in the CDA, until the 3-judge panel meets to consider the case.

Click here for their statement.

February 9, 1996

In two separate lawsuits yesterday, judges have stated that the restrictions on abortion discussion are Unconstitutional and will not be enforced. The ACLU is waiting for the Court to put that stipulation in writing, however it appears that this fight is over for now. (Click here for the ACLU’s account, and here for the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy’s press release.)

The ACLU also filed a temporary restraining order seeking to prohibit enforcement of the Act. The Gov’t has agreed to suspend enforcement for 7 days, after which the judge will issue a ruling on the motion. So the CDA will not take effect until next Wednesday at the earliest (if the motion is turned down). The ACLU’s statement on this is here.

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Last updated: 25 March 1997

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