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Reno v. ACLU (docket #: 96-511) (1997)  [Findlaw]

Secondary Link Reno v. ACLU  [Legal Information Institute]
Argument Date 03/19/1997
Decided 06/26/1997
Supreme Court Vote 7-2
Note Contrast Justice Stevens' opinion in Reno v. ACLU with his opinion in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (1978). Contrast it also with the Court's holding in Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc. v. U.S. (2000)
Supreme Court Ruling First Amendment claim sustained.
IssueWhether the provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that prohibit the transmission of indecent and patently offensive materials to minors over the Internet violate the First Amendment.
Case Summary & Additional Resources
Majority Opinion Stevens, J.
Concurring Opinion O'Connor, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part (joined by Rehnquist, C.J.)
Lower Court Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Oral Arguments Oral Arguments  [Oyez]
-- transcript
For Petitioner
Seth Waxman (Solicitor General)

For Respondent
Bruce J. Ennis

For Respondent
Appellee's Brief

For Amicus
ACLU website (collecting amicus briefs)

Tony Mauro Analysis
Supreme Court Strikes Down CDA(6-26-97)

"Library filtering backers, foes foresee victory as Supreme Court takes case" (11-13-02)

"Net-porn law relied too heavily on content restrictions, Court holds" (6-30-04)

"Supreme Court scrutinizes decency in arts-funding fight" (4-01-1998)

"Supreme Court Strikes Down CDA" (6-26-1997)

Opinion - Lower Court
ACLU v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824 (ED Pa. 1996) (per Sloviter, CJ & Buckwalter & Dalzell, JJ.)

AP, "Pennsylvania's effort to block Net child porn called failure" (6/26/04)

AP, "High court won't let online porn law take effect" (6-29-04)

AP, "House, Senate pass Internet anti-porn measures" (10-08-1998)

AP, "Pennsylvania's effort to block Net child porn called failure" (6-26-04)

Biskupic, & Schwartz, John, "Justices Weigh Issues of Internet Safeguards, Censorship," Washington Post, March 20, 1997, sect. A, p. 11
Elsasser, Glen, "Court Logs on to Decide On-Line Free Speech Case," Chicago Tribune, March 19, 1997, p. 1
Farrell, John Aloysius, "High court gets Internet indecency case," Boston Globe, March 20, 1997, sect. A, p. 8
Greenhouse, Linda, "Spirited Debate in High Court On Decency Rules for Internet," New York Times, March 20, 1997, sect. B, p. 10
Greenhouse, Linda, "Statute on Internet Decency Draws High Court's Review," New York Times, December 7, 1996, p. 1
Hudson, David, "Civil libertarians blast Internet pornography proposals" (3-13-1998)

Hudson, David, "Civil libertarians challenge Internet censorship law" (4-23-1998)

Hudson, David, "Clinton signs CDA 2 into law; cyber-liberty groups respond with lawsuit" (10-22-1998)

Hudson, David, "Donna Rice Hughes makes it her mission to fight cyberporn" (10-07-1998(

Hudson, David, "Online activist warns against government-mandated Internet filtering" (12-18-1998)

Marquand, Robert, "Purging Porn vs. Free Speech On the Internet," Christian Science Monitor," March 18, 1997, p. 1
Savage, David, "Supreme Court debates Internet Decency Law," Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1997, p. 21
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, March 19, 1997 (transcript available on LexisNexis)
ACLU website, "Feature on Reno v. ACLU I--The Battle Over the CDA" (6-26-97)

Corn-Revere, Robert, "Internet & First Amendment overview"

Douglas Fraleigh, "Reno v. ACLU," in FREE SPEECH ON TRIAL (2003), Richard A. Parker, ed., pp. 298-312

Hardy, "The Proper Legal Regime for 'Cyberspace,'" 55 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 993 (1994)
Hudson, David, "Cyber-liberties attorney Ann Beeson fights for free speech on the Net" (5-26-1999)

Hudson, David, "First Amendment triumphs mark attorney's Supreme Court record" (9-25-98) (re Bruce Ennis)

Lessig & Resnick, "Zoning Speech on the Internet: A Legal & Technological Model," 98 Michigan Law Review 395 (1999)
Reich, Jarrod, "Online libel"

Rimm, Marty, "Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway: A Survey of 917,410 Images, Descriptions, Short Stories, and Animations Downloaded 8.5 Million Times by Consumers in Over 2000 Cities . . .," 83 Georgetown L.J. 1849 (1995)
Ross, "Anything Geos: Examining the State's Interest in Protecting Children from Controversial Speech," 53 Vanderbilt Law Review 427 (2000)
Schlachter, Eric & Leibowitz, Wendy R., "What You Need To Know About Reno v. ACLU"

Strossen, Nadine, "Children's Rights v. Adult Free Speech: Can They Be Reconciled?," 29 Conneticut Law Review 873 (1997)
Sullivan, Kathleen, "First Amendment Intermediaries in the Age of Cyberspace," 45 UCLA Law Review 1653 (1998)
Volokh, Eugene, "Freedom of Speech in Cyberspace From the Listener's Perspective: Private Speech Restrictions, Libel, State Action, Harassment and Sex," 1996 University of Chicago Legal Forum 377 (1996)
Editorial, "Cyberspace Content, Bedrock Belief," The Oregonian, June 29, 1997
Editorial, "Yes, The Net is Speech," Washington Post, June 27, 1997
McMasters, "'Tools' fail as strategies to keep kids away from Net sex at libraries" (7-18-2000)

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