Once Again: Court Says That COPA Anti-Porn Law Is Unconstitutional

from the and-again-and-again-and-again dept

After the Supreme Court rejected most of the Communications Decency Act as being unconstitutional, Congress tried again with the more friendly sounding Child Online Protection Act. It sounds nice. Who doesn't want to "protect the children," right? But it was basically the same thing as the CDA, and court after court has struck it down as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has already weighed in on some aspects of the law, kicking the case back down to the district level, where the judge noted the law was unconstitutional. The government appealed (of course), and subpoenaed data from just about everyone. You may recall the legal fuss over the government's demand that pretty much every search engine hand over their logs? That was part of the case the government was trying to make -- and about the best they could do was to prove that (gasp!) there's some porn online.

Of course, since porn is legal, proving that there's porn online is hardly a rationale for restricting free speech -- which is what COPA would do. It would require sites to make sure that either no adult content showed up anywhere on their site, or verify the age of everyone who visited their site. That is quite an extreme limitation on free speech, which is exactly what court after court after court has said. And, now we can add to that the Appeals Court who has now struck down COPA yet again, pointing out that it's a clear violation of the First Amendment and chilling to freedom of speech. It also noted that there's simply no reason that parents can't deal with themselves through the use of filters:
"It is apparent that COPA, like the Communications Decency Act before it, 'effectively suppresses a large amount of speech that adults have a constitutional right to receive and to address to one another,'... and thus is overbroad. For this reason, COPA violates the First Amendment. These burdens would chill protected speech."
Interesting that this comes at the same time that Andrew Cuomo and NY State are bullying ISPs to effectively do what COPA would have demanded. Hopefully Comcast will send Andrew Cuomo a copy of the Appeals Court decision. In the meantime, the Justice Department is indicating that it will appeal to the Supreme Court -- so this case is still not over.
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Filed Under: appeals court, cda, copa, first amendment, free speech

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  1. identicon
    Lucretious, 22 Jul 2008 @ 4:36pm

    and when it goes to the Supreme Court and gets rejected we'll all hear about runaway judicial oversight and renegade liberal judges.

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