Reno v. ACLU: Internet Censorship

Reno v. ACLU: Internet Censorship

Reno v. ACLU: Internet Censorship

Reno v. ACLU: Internet Censorship

Synopsis

The impact and ramifications of cases argued before the Supreme Court are felt for decades, if not centuries. Only the most important issues of the day and the land make it to the nine justices, and the effects of their decisions reach far beyond the litigants. Under discussion here are five of the most momentous Supreme Court cases ever. They include Marbury v. Madison, Roe v. Wade, Dred Scott, Brown v. Board of Education, and The Pentagon Papers. An absorbing exploration of enormously controversial events, the series details, highlights, and clarifies the complex legal arguments of both sides. Placing the cases within their historical context (though they ultimately emerge as works in progress), the authors reveal each decision's relevance both to the past and the present. the result is a fascinating glimpse across the centuries into the workings of the Supreme Court and the American judicial system.

Excerpt

SHOuLD THe U.S. GovernmenT protect young people from “obscene” and “indecent” material on the Internet? That's the question that faced the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996 in the landmark case of Reno v. ACLU. The case pitted the U.S. government, represented by Attorney General Janet Reno, against a coalition of groups headed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Known as “the case to overturn the Communications Decency Act” (CDA), Reno v. ACLU involved an act of Congress signed into law by President Bill Clinton on February 8, 1996, that made it a crime to send “indecent” or “patently offensive” material over the Internet to anyone under the age of eighteen. The ACLU immediately filed suit to prevent the new law from taking effect while the case was being tried. A federal judge granted the ACLU's request in part, and then the ACLU got the government to voluntarily refrain from enforcing the rest of the law until the case was resolved in court.

Reno v. ACLU took place in the mid-1990s, but, in cybertime, it seemed like a different era. The Internet was just getting started. A new word-cyberporn-burst on the scene in a flurry of high-profile media stories. Senator J. James Exon, the Nebraska Democrat who sponsored the CDA, said that the raw images of cyberporn made Playboy and Penthouse look wholesome. “It's not an exaggeration . . .

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