Today, the Supreme Court refused to review the July 2008 appellate court decision that ruled the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) unconstitutional. The law would have barred publication of a wide range of materials on the Internet that met the law’s definition of “harmful to minors,” or required sites to use age verification and other methods to identify users of websites. Both the district court and appellate court agreed that the voluntary use of filtering software by parents was a less restrictive method of achieving the government’s goal of protecting children from exposure to sexually explicit or adult themed material.
The Justices’ action came without comment and with no noted dissents in Mukasey v. American Civil Liberties Union, et al. (08-565). (h/t to the SCOTUS blog) The order can be found on the Supreme Court’s website; the order is on page 10, under the heading “Certiorari Denied.”
“We’re delighted that the Supreme Court has upheld the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion striking down the law,” said Judith Krug, Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom. “COPA would have restricted access to a vast amount of Constitutionally protected material on the Internet, in violation of the First Amendment. We agree with District Court Judge Lowell Reed, who observed that, ‘perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection.'”
The order concludes over ten years of litigation. The law was never enforced. The Freedom to Read Foundation filed numerous amicus curiae briefs in the case, arguing in favor of First Amendment freedoms.