Ashcroft v ACLU formerly ACLU v Reno

Brief of Amici Curiae In Support Of Respondents (VLA & PFAW)


In Oct., 1998, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law a new "sequel" to the unconstitutional Communications Decency Act. This new Internet censorship bill, the Child Online Protect Act (COPA, a.k.a. "CDA II") would establish criminal penalties for any "commercial" distribution of material deemed "harmful to minors". The numerous problems with this legislation include overbreadth, vagueness of definitions of key terms such as "commercial", an illegal attempt to force adults to give up privacy to excerise their right to read, prior restraints on publication, and a flawed "community standards" approach that would allow the most conservative jurisdiction in the US country to set the "decency" standards for all Web content nationally (indeed, globally).

Just days after passage of this legislation, EFF in conjunction with the ACLU and EPIC (two other civil liberties organizations) filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this law and seeking to have it overturned. In 1999, A federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law, on the grounds that it is probably unconstitutional. On June 22, 2000, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction. The case was appealled to the US Supreme Court.

This is the amicus brief filed by volunteer lawyers for the arts and people for the american way foundation in support of the ACLU at the US Supreme Court level.

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