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ACLU v. Reno: The Legal Challenge to Internet Censorship

See EPIC's main CDA Page for complete, up-to-date information

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union and 18 other organizations, has initiated a constitutional challenge to the Communications Decency Act. EPIC is participating as both co-counsel and plaintiff. The lawsuit -- ACLU v. Reno -- was filed in federal court in Philadelphia on February 8 and sought a declaration that the statute is unconstitutional. The ACLU/EPIC case was consolidated with a companion lawsuit subsequently filed by the American Library Association and other plaintiffs. On June 12, 1996, a special three-judge court ruled in plaintiffs' favor and enjoined enforcement of the statute.

The U.S. Justice Department appealed the decision. On December 6, 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court noted probable jurisdiction and set a briefing schedule. The case -- now known as Reno v. ACLU -- will be argued before the Court on March 19. Materials on the litigation, including significant court documents, will be available at this page as the case proceeds.

The Lower Court Decision

Full Text of the decision (238K)

Excerpts from decision (easier to download and digest)

The Philadelphia Court

The three-judge court (left to right):
Hon. Stewart Dalzell; Hon. Dolores Sloviter; Hon. Ronald Buckwalter

Relevant Documents (Supreme Court Proceedings)

Main Briefs

ACLU/EPIC Brief of Appellees

American Library Association Brief of Appellees

Amicus Briefs

Brief of the American Association of University Professors and twenty other groups.

Brief of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Student Press Law Center.

Brief of AppolloMedia and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF).

Brief of Site Specific, Inc. and Jon Lebkowsky.

The plaintiffs in the ACLU/EPIC challenge had filed a motion for summary affirmance with the Court, asserting that the decision of the special three-judge court is so clearly correct that full briefing and argument is not required to resolve the issue.

Motion for summary affirmance (October 31, 1996)

ACLU Press Release on motion for summary affirmance

ACLU CDA Background Briefing: The Road to the Supreme Court

Trial Transcripts

March 21 (plaintiffs' case) (morning) and (afternoon)

March 22 (plaintiffs' case) (morning) and (afternoon)

April 1 (plaintiffs' case) (morning) and (afternoon)

April 12 (government's case) (morning) and (afternoon)

April 15 (government's case) (complete session)

May 10 (closing arguments) (morning) and (afternoon)


Trial Updates and Press Coverage

The following reports describe the proceedings in Philadelphia leading up to the historic decision:

May 10:

ACLU Update on closing arguments

c|net News: May 10 proceedings

April 15:

ACLU Update on final day of proceedings

c|net News: April 15 proceedings

Plaintiff Declan McCullagh's report on April 15 proceedings

April 12:

ACLU Update on fourth day of proceedings

c|net News: April 12 proceedings

Plaintiff Declan McCullagh's report on April 12 proceedings

April 1:

ACLU Update on third day of proceedings

USA Today: April 1 proceedings

c|net News: April 1 proceedings

Plaintiff Declan McCullagh's report on April 1 proceedings (and report on the
status of a separate CDA challenge
pending in federal court in New York City)

March 21 and 22:

ACLU Update on first two days of proceedings

c|net News: March 21 and March 22

CNN Interactive: March 21 and March 22

The Ethical Spectacle (reports by plaintiff Jonathan Wallace): March 21 and March 22

Philadelphia Inquirer: March 21 and March 22

Plaintiff Declan McCullagh's reports: March 21 and March 22


Relevant Documents (Philadelphia Proceedings)

Plaintiffs' post-trial brief in support of motion for a preliminary injunction

Friend of the court brief in support of plaintiffs filed by Authors Guild, American Society of Journalists and Authors, and other parties

Trial declarations of plaintiffs' witnesses Howard Rheingold and Barry Steinhardt

Stipulation that the government will not enforce the CDA pending the conclusion of the litigation (February 23, 1996)

Text of the decision partially granting the TRO (February 15, 1996)

ACLU advisory on the TRO

The complaint

Plaintiffs' brief in support of motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction

Government's brief opposing motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction

EPIC's affidavit explaining the effect of censorship on its educational mission

EPIC's statement on the lawsuit

The ACLU's statement on the lawsuit

List of plaintiffs participating in the suit

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