An Introduction to the CDA Decision
Amicus Curiae 27, 1998
6 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2016
Date Written: 1998
On June 26, 1997, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 117 S. Ct. 2329 (1997). While it has been hailed widely as an enormous victory for free speech on the Internet, the decision to overturn key portions of the Communications Decency Act was hardly a surprise. Given the poor drafting of the statute, and the extensive and completely pro-plaintiff findings of fact by the trial court -- which in the US system are almost never open to direct revision by the courts of appeal -- the Supreme Court had little choice. Although the decision is a victory for free speech online, the decision is as notable for what it does not say as for what it decides. Indeed, the decision demonstrates great caution on the part of the United States Supreme Court with regards to new communications technologies and new media.
To understand what was decided in the Reno case -- and, more importantly, what was not decided -- requires a brief description of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and of the litigation mounted by a coalition of advocacy groups that ultimately defeated it.
Keywords: CDA, Internet law, cyberlaw, computer law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation