ACLU Gears Up for Next Round of Appeals In Challenges to Internet Censorship Laws

September 20, 1999 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union are defending legal challenges to two state Internet censorship laws tomorrow, and gearing up for the next round of arguments in their challenge to a federal attempt at blocking online free speech, now set for Thursday, November 4 in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, September 21, ACLU national staff attorney Ann Beeson will urge the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to uphold a district court’s preliminary finding in ACLU v. Johnson that New Mexico’s law criminalizing online communications violates free speech rights and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

Also on Tuesday, ACLU cooperating attorney Marjorie Heins will face down the full bench of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia for a rehearing of Urofsky v. Gilmore, the ACLU’s challenge to a Virginia law barring state employees from accessing “sexually explicit communications” on the Internet. A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit upheld the law in a ruling issued on February 10.

And on Thursday, November 4, the ACLU will appear before a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to argue once again that a federal law barring online free speech is unconstitutional.

In an ACLU challenge to a similar law, the United States Supreme Court in 1997 declared the Internet to be deserving of the highest First Amendment protection.

In February of this year, U.S. District Judge Lowell A. Reed found that the ACLU was likely to succeed on its claim that the latest version of the law “imposes a burden on speech that is protected for adults.”

Upcoming Trial Dates in ACLU Challenges
To Internet Censorship Laws

ACLU v. Johnson
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 1999, 9:00 a.m.
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Byron White United States Courthouse
1823 Stout Street
Denver, CO 80257
(303) 844-3157
Judges: Mary Beck Briscoe (10th Cir.), Stephen A. Anderson (10th Cir.), Dale A. Kimball (visiting district court judge from Eastern District of Utah)

Urofsky v. Gilmore
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 1999, 9:00 a.m.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. United States Courthouse Annex
1100 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia
Judges: full court

ACLU v. Reno II
Thursday, Nov. 4, 1999 (time and length of trial to be announced)
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
21400 United States Courthouse
601 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1790
(215) 597-2995
Judges: three-judge panel (to be announced)

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