Supreme Court of United States. Argued March 2, Decided June 29,
This case resulted in a unanimous U. The resulting rule of law indicated that it was not constitutional to infringe on adult speech freedoms if there were less restrictive methods of achieving the goal of protecting children from indecent or obscene materials.
In particular, the act criminalized intentionally using a computer service to send indecent or obscene material to anyone under 18 years of age.
The legislation also criminalized the use of any interactive computer service to display sexual or excretory activities or organs or anything offensive as measured by contemporary community standards. The majority opinion included several pages of findings of fact about the nature and history of Internet technology and identified the utility of protecting such a source of communication and expression.
This resulted in the court subjecting the CDA legislation to a strict-scrutiny analysis. This is the most restrictive level of review and applies in cases of infringement of constitutionally protected rights.
There are three tests that must be utilized, including the presence of a compelling government interest, a requirement that the provision includes a narrowly tailored policy, and the policy must represent the least restrictive means of achieving the goal. Without findings in all three areas, a policy will fail the strict-scrutiny test.
The court noted that the CDA differed from other laws in the breadth of its restrictions and the vagueness of the descriptions of the prohibited materials and behaviors. There were neither temporal limitations nor objective evaluation criteria.
The legislation did not allow parents to consent to the use of restricted materials by their children and was purely punitive in its response to the concerns. The justices recognized that the medium under regulation had previously been given full First Amendment protection.
This heightened expectation of protection warranted the most stringent review of the CDA provisions. However, the court found none of these factors at play with regard to materials conveyed via the Internet.
The justices found that the statute was vague and raised concerns about the chilling effect on free speech. The CDA had failed to adequately and precisely justify such an intrusion on the constitutional protections and was therefore struck down.
These alternative methods of controlling access to the obscene material reduced the need to infringe on the First Amendment protections of adults. The legislation attempted to prevent the transmission of materials that were identified as harmful to minors and included a three pronged test to assess the nature of the materials.
This legislation was also challenged and found constitutionally problematic in in the landmark case Ashcroft v. This law currently provides the standards for minors in accessing indecent and obscene materials online.
Marshall Convendish, Ehrlich, Paul. Regulating Conduct on the Internet. University of Alabama Press, Solutions Following Ashcroft v.Held.
No. Judgment of the District Court affirmed. Under the CDA, neither parents’ consent nor their participation would avoid application of the statute.
The CDA fails to provide any definition of “indecent” and omits any requirement that the “patently offensive material” lack serious literary, artistic, political or . The parties involved were Janet Reno, attorney general () of the United States, which also makes her the head of the U.S.
Department of Justice, she is the first woman in this position#, and the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU). Reno v. ACLU, June 26, , D Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union () Argued: March 19, Decided: June 26, Brief Fact Summary.
The American Civil Liberties Union did not bring suit against the Communications Decency Act; it brought suit against the Attorney General as the senior-most governmental official charged with the enforcement of this Act.2/5(1).
The Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union case was the first test involving the regulation of indecent or obscene materials distributed electronically over the Internet. American Civil Liberties Union, U. S. , (), and consider that principle a sufficient basis for deciding this case. But COPA's use of community standards is not the statute's only constitutional defect.