ACLU v. Reno, Round II Update: First Major Ruling Expected by Feb. 1

January 27, 1999 12:00 am

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Wednesday, January 27, 1999

PHILADELPHIA– With closing arguments concluded late Tuesday, Judge Lowell A. Reed, Jr. called lawyers for the government and the American Civil Liberties Union back into court today for a final “question-and-answer” session regarding the constitutionality of a new federal Internet censorship law.

Judge Reed is expected to rule on whether to block the law by Monday, February 1, when a temporary restraining order he imposed against the law in November is scheduled to expire.

The new law makes it a federal crime for commercial websites to communicate material considered “harmful to minors.” Penalties include fines of up to $50,000 for each day of violation, and up to six months in prison if convicted of a crime.

At the five-day hearing, the ACLU presented testimony from website operators who provide free information for artists, lesbian and gay men, and the disabled, who all fear that a new federal law will force them to shut down their websites.

If the court issues a preliminary injunction, Internet users will remain safe from prosecution and fines and a full trial will be scheduled. The government will then have to decide whether it wants to pursue an appeal.

The judge’s ruling will be broadcast by the ACLU as soon as it is known.

For more information on the case go to /features/f101698a.html

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