Feature on Reno v. ACLU I - The Battle Over the CDA

Document Date: June 26, 1997

Reno v. ACLU I

ACLU Successfully Defends the First Amendment’s Future on the Internet in Historic, Precedent-Setting Decision

Striking a tremendous victory for the future of the First Amendment on the Internet, the Supreme Court ruled in Reno v. ACLU that the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech, affirming a lower court decision.

The CDA, Congresses first attempt to regulate the freedom of speech online, was passed in February 1996. In imposing content regulations throughout the Internet, much like broadcast television and radio, the CDA intended to threaten the very existence of the Internet as a means of free expression. In defeating this oppressive law, the ACLU has helped maintain the Internet as a free forum for ideas and commerce.

ACLU Hails Supreme Court Victory in Internet Censorship Challenge Read the Decision in Reno v. ACLU

Statements from Reno v. ACLU plaintiffs and witnesses

Reno v. ACLU Supreme Court Appeal materials

Legal Documents

Press Releases

ACLU v. Reno Plaintiffs:

ACLU v. Reno Amici:

ACLU v. Reno Legal Team:

ACLU v. Reno Companion Case:

  • ALA v. Department of Justice: The Citizens’ Internet Empowerment Coalition has complete information on the organizations that joined the challenge to the CDA before the three-judge panel in Philadelphia. This case has been combined for argument with Reno v. ACLU.

A note on names: Because the government is appealing the decision of the special three-judge panel, the name of the case has been reversed. For a complete explanation of the legal review process — and the ACLU’s motion for summary affirmance — read “The Road to the Supreme Court” Backgrounder.

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