COPA held unconstitutional (yet again)

In 1997, the Supreme Court struck down portions of the Communications Decency Act [Reno v. ACLU, 521 US 844 (1997)] which sought to put strict prohibitions on the distribution of pornography on the Intenret. The following year, Congress passed the Children’s Online Protection Act (“COPA”), which was another attempt to cut off Internet pornography at its source.

Shortly after COPA was passed, the ACLU and others challenged it on constitutional grounds. The entry of a preliminary injunction made it all the way up to the Supreme Court, which affirmed. Discovery in the matter before trial led to last year’s privacy maelstrom surrounding the request of the Government for Google to turn over massive amounts of search data. [More on that topic here.]

The case proceeded to trial in November of last year, and earlier today, Judge Reed, at the end of an 84 page opinion, issued a final adjudication, which reads as follows:

AND NOW, this 22nd day of March, 2007, upon consideration of the evidence, testimony of the witnesses and experts, and the arguments of counsel presented during the trial of this matter and the pre and post-trial submissions by the parties … , it is hereby ORDERED, that based upon the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law detailed above:

(1) The Child Online Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 231, is facially violative of the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and

(2) Defendant Alberto R. Gonzales, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, and his officers, agents, employees, and attorneys, and those persons in active concert or participation with defendant who receive actual notice of this Order are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing or prosecuting matters premised upon 47 U.S.C. § 231 at any time for any conduct.

This is a FINAL ORDER and this case is CONCLUDED.

S/ Lowell A. Reed, Jr.

Download the entire opinion here.