Decision ends 10-year battle over Child Online Protection Act
WASHINGTON — The government lost its final attempt Wednesday, Jan. 21 to revive a federal law intended to protect children from sexual material and other objectionable content on the Internet.
The Supreme Court said it won’t consider reviving the Child Online Protection Act, which lower federal courts struck down as unconstitutional. The law has been embroiled in court challenges since it passed in 1998 and never took effect.
It would have barred Web sites from making harmful content available to minors over the Internet.
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled that would violate the First Amendment, because filtering technologies and other parental control tools are a less restrictive way to protect children from inappropriate content online.
The act was passed the year after the Supreme Court ruled that another law intended to protect children from explicit material online — the Communications Decency Act — was unconstitutional.
The Bush administration had pressed the justices to take the case. They offered no comment on their decision to reject the government’s appeal.
Five justices who ruled against the Internet blocking law in 2004 remain on the court.
The case is Mukasey v. ACLU. 08-565.
Plaintiffs in the case included LGBT newspaper Philadelphia Gay News, Planetout Corp., and gay San Francisco bookstore A Different Light.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, said Wednesday his newspaper joined the lawsuit because it was "a battle to uphold the first amendment. Freedom of speech is the foundation of our democracy and allows Americans to not only voice their opinions but gives us the right to communicate our struggles for equal rights."