Free Speech Prevails in 10-Year Censorship Battle

Free speech on the Internet is a big winner today. The Supreme Court earlier announced that it will not hear the government’s latest appeal of the ban on enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), the federal law that would criminalize constitutionally protected speech on the Internet in the name of protecting children. That means that this case is now finally over, and that the lower courts’ rulings that COPA is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment are final. This is a terrific result, and the end of a long, hard-fought battle to keep the Internet free of government censorship.

This case was filed more than 10 years ago. It has already been to the Supreme Court twice. In the Supreme Court’s second decision, issued in 2004, the Court upheld the injunction against enforcement of COPA, rejecting the government’s argument that the statute was constitutional. The government nevertheless decided to continue fighting, and a trial was held in 2006 to see if any facts had changed to justify the law. Following more than four weeks of trial, the District Court again ruled that COPA was unconstitutional. Last year, the Court of Appeals reached the same conclusion.

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court not to review the case once again reaffirms what the courts have consistently said for the last 10 years: the government cannot censor lawful speech on the Internet in the name of protecting children. Government should not be in the business of deciding what we all can and cannot see or do on the Internet. Those decisions are for all of us to make, and for all parents to make, not for government to make.

COPA was not the first time that Congress has tried to restrict lawful speech on the Internet in the name of protecting children. The Supreme Court also struck down Congress’s first attempt, the Communications Decency Act. While we are hopeful that Congress has learned its lesson, this probably won’t be the last we hear of government attempts to restrict speech on the Internet. It will, however, be the last we hear of COPA. At long last, COPA is finally dead, and that is a huge victory for free speech on the Internet.

UPDATE: Watch Chris Hansen, Director of the First Amendment Working Group, talk more about internet content filters and libraries here.

Add a comment (16)
Read the Terms of Use

liberal hater

The American Criminal Liberties Union support online child pornography and pedophilia through their support of NAMBLA--North American Man Boy Love Association.

I wonder how many children have to be forceably raped and tortured and even killed before someone stands up to the anti-American cowards at the ACLU.


Why does congress keep trying to stifle free speech on the internet?

Could it be because us little debt slaves are using it to WAKE UP and the elite are getting scared?

Vic Livingston


For your consideration, these case studies by a journalist who apparently is among the thousands of scribes unconstitutionally "targeted" by U.S. intelligence/security agencies:



liberal hater Says:

This is the internet, please use your parenting skills.


bravo, a long, well fought battle.

Velluto rosso

Ah, the wonderful NAMBLA, so deftly lampooned by comedians when it was still in vogue. Wonderful of you to bring it up, really. It shows your ability to research.

David Morris

WOW, ever heard of the fairness docterine? It is coming to the internet thanks to Obama and the left. Harry Reed just said, and I quote "you must stop child pornography and you nust put a mussle on the right "activists"" ANYTHING you say against the "new" administration will be censored and we will not have "free Speech" unless it is what the "main stream" is saying.

The Constitution

The basic constitutional right of the people to keep and bear arms is the most important consitutional right there is. I'd much rather have my right to keep and bear arms than my right to free speech because a free man with a gun can speak his mind anyway!


does this mean the internet sex stings are illegal. would appreciate an answer.

Aden Fine, Firs...

The Supreme Court's decision means that the government cannot enforce the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which made it illegal for websites to put sexually explicit material on the Internet. The Court's decision does not mean that other existing laws cannot be enforced and it does not necessarily have any connection to "internet sex stings," although that would depend on what is meant by "internet sex stings."


Sign Up for Breaking News