Opening arguments and the first few days of a non-jury trial have commenced here in the latest episode of the long-running litigation over the “Child Online Protection Act” (COPA), which was enacted in 1998 but has never taken effect because it has been under court injunction ever since, after being twice ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and twice considered by the Supreme Court.
In the most recent (2004) ruling by the Supremes, the high court left standing the injunction against enforcement of COPA, while at the same time keeping open the possibility that COPA might ultimately be upheld.
This long history of litigation began when U.S. District Court Judge Lowell A. Reed, Jr. issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law in 1999. in the name of their protection.
Now Judge Reed presides once again, guided this time by the Supreme Court comments, over the latest incarnation of the legal battle in ACLU v. Gonzales screen out material unsuitable for children would not work as well as COPA.
were not a better option. It is worth noting that all five justices in the majority opinion are still on the court.
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At the time of the decision, ACLU representative Ann Beeson said she planned to ask the Department of Justice to agree to drop the case, given what she described.
Not only did the government not drop the case, but they also proceeded to make headlines by issuing controversial subpoenas to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AT&T, Comcast Cable, Cox Communications, and at least 34 ISP’s demanding records that they could use to try to build a case that filters are not effective.
In opening statements this week, ACLU Attorney Chris Hansen, who is lead counsel in this go-around, reiterated many of the key points that have served the ACLU well over the years of courtroom argument on this law: that COPA would have a chilling effect on protected speech and is not the least restrictive means to protect children.
Hansen also took the opportunity to make a few points regarding the images that the government planned to project on the walls to dramatize the evils of explicit materials on the Internet.
U.S. child, even if COPA goes fully into effect.” Furthermore, said Hansen, after noting that some filters did not block all the images, “[T]here are filters out there that blocked every single one of the images that he [the government’s lead attorney, Christopher Harris] is going to show you….
His sensationalist effort to scare the court by believing these pictures will be protected if COPA goes into effect, and unprotected when using filters, simply should be rejected.”
Harris made an interesting comment in his opening statement for the government, bringing in the recent legislative efforts to curb Internet gambling as a way to defuse the argument that COPA will have no effect on foreign websites.
States and process payments from U.S. consumers.”
Police here have raided three local businesses, Sunrise, Krazy Katz, and Bare Necessities, for violating Texas obscenity statutes by selling prohibited merchandise.
Employees on duty, as well as two store owners, were arrested and could face four thousand dollar fines, up to a year in jail, or both. Over two thousand items undercover officers thought to be “obscene” were seized in the raids.
After taking inventory, police say they will hand over the evidence to city judges who will make a ruling on each item individually, according to the law. If the judge deems an item is not obscene, it will be returned to the stores. Those items that are ruled obscene will be used as evidence in the trial.
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