The Un-Justices rule on the CDA

For your reading amusement and un-pleasure -- P
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 14:15:31 -0500
From: James Boyle <boyle@wcl.american.edu>

Dear Paul,  my students and I put together a mock opinion in Reno v.
ACLU. I thought you might be interested to see how it comes out.  

 I think you will particularly like Justice Un-Scalia's opinion

 "One of the most distressing aspects of the Un-Court's opinion, is that
they have apparently been carried away by the
enthusiastic burbling of the Internet's defenders. In fact, of course,
the Internet is a shallow and unreliable electronic
epository of dirty pictures, inaccurate rumors, bad spelling and worse
grammar, inhabited largely by people with no demonstrable social skills.
To romanticize this medium -- as JUSTICE Un-SOUTER does -- is bad
enough. The CONCURRENCE's starry-eyed images of Alexander Hamilton
downloading the work of the anti-Federalists are simply embarrassing.
The Internet is nothing new, and reading "Dilbert" on a computer screen
is not a revolution incommunications technology. In fact,to use the
memorable definition of television offered by a prior chair of the FCC,
the  Internet is "just another appliance. It's a toaster with pictures." 

You may also find his conclusion interesting. He argues that PICS  has
saved the CDA 

"In short, the CDA is not overbroad, nor does it fail the "least
restrictive means test" precisely because every Internet
browser is presently PICS compliant, or will be soon. The irony is that
PICS was originally developed as a way to
show that the CDA was unconstitutional because mere private action,
without legislative threat, would be enough to
protect children from indecency. In fact, however, the availability of
PICS makes the CDA constitutional because it
offers adults an easy, practical and value neutral way to confine their
indecent speech to an audience of other adults. The
technology designed to doom the CDA has in fact saved it. The irony is
delicious, though it is an irony that I do not
expect my Un-BRETHREN to appreciate, or even understand."

All the best, Jamie

Professor James Boyle
Washington College of Law 
American University
4801 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington DC 20016
202 274-4204 ph.
202 274-4130 fax
Recent Papers:

A (mock) Supreme Court decision in Reno v. ACLU can be found at 
The decision was produced by Professor James Boyle and the students in
his Law in the Information Society Class.  We hope you find it of