News

Arguments of ACLU and Coalition of Porn Web Sites Upheld   WASHINGTON, May 14, 2002 (lsn.ca) — The latest attempt by Congress to protect children from Internet pornography barely survived its first Supreme Court test yesterday, in what may be a prelude to ruling the law unconstitutional, the New York Times reports.

The effect was to uphold a Federal District Court order that has hamstrung the Child Online Protection Act since February 1999. The law,  passed by Congress in 1998, would impose prison sentences and fines of up to $100,000 for posting material “harmful to minors.”

The federal appeals court in Philadelphia, supporting the ACLU and a coalition of web sites that contain pornography, blocked the law’s reliance on “contemporary community standards” because it violates the First Amendment and would give “the most puritan of communities” a veto over the Internet.

All eight justices agreed that the appeals court analysis was not deep enough. But the court was split over the reasons.

On the conservative side, Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist found that the appeals court was simply wrong and that a community standard as applied to the Internet should be constitutionally adequate.

On the liberal side, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg ruled that the Act is probably “overbroad and cannot survive.” Two other justices, Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer said that a “national” rather than a community standard is required.

To read the New York Times coverage see:  https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/14/national/14SCOT.html?todaysheadlines