Friday, February 23, 1996
* Government will refrain from pursuing Internet prosecution
* Abortion speech restrictions, already acknowledged unconstitutional,
* 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
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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