"The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse? You cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment." - George Carlin


Friday, February 23, 1996

* Government will refrain from pursuing Internet prosecution
* Abortion speech restrictions, already acknowledged unconstitutional, not addressed
* ACLU hearing dates set for March 21 and 22 in Philadelphia

1. In a deal brokered with the U.S. Department of Justice, the ACLU announced that the government agreed not to initiate investigations or prosecute under the "indecency" or "patently offensive" censorship provisions of the Telecommunications Act while the three-judge panel considers the case. ACLU attorney Chris Hansen, who is leading the litigation, explained that the agreement represented a victory because it expands protections for Internet users beyond the temporary restraining order on the indecency provisions granted by Judge Buckwalter last Thursday. Under this agreement, which protects all Internet users, no one will be either investigated or prosecuted for "patently offensive" speech. If the law is upheld, the government has reserved the right to prosecute later for such speech dating from the passage of the law.

2. Citing the government's earlier concession that the legislation's restriction on abortion speech is unconstitutional, Catherine Weiss, litigation director for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, said that the agreement did not need to address the abortion speech restriction. The Clinton Justice Department has already said that it will not prosecute for abortion-related speech on the Internet under any circumstances.

3. At a scheduling conference on Tuesday, the three-judge court set five dates for the hearing on the preliminary injunction motion in Philadelphia. The ACLU's hearing dates are March 21 and 22, with April 1 reserved. The government's dates are April 11 and 12, 1996. The total trial is scheduled to last five days.

Complete information on the lawsuit is available via ACLU's new "Freedom Network" World Wide Web page, <>, and via the ACLU's Constitution Hall forum on America Online (keyword: ACLU).

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