The Justice Department has decided to appeal a recent decision rejecting the Communications Decency Act delivered by a special three-judge panel in Philadelphia, sources in Washington told CNET.
Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general, sent a letter to Senator James Exon (D-Nebraska)'s office late this afternoon informing the lawmaker of the decision to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. Exon introduced the CDA, which was enacted as part of the landmark Telecommunications Act signed in February.
The Justice Department must appeal by July 2, 20 days after the Philadelphia ruling was handed down.
Close observers of the CDA legal battle said they were surprised that the department waited so long to appeal. "I expected that they would appeal, but I was surprised it took this long," said David Sobel, legal counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "I would have assumed that politically they were going to appeal while the story was still hot."
Sobel said he expects the department to file papers with the Supreme Court by Tuesday, but even if the justices decide to accept the case, the trial won't be argued until late fall or early winter. Many legal experts, however, believe the court will let the Philadelphia decision stand.
When and if the case reaches the Supreme Court, the judges will be bound by the factual findings that are contained in the original opinion. "The Supreme Court doesn't have any latitude in terms of the facts but can obviously come to a different legal conclusion," Sobel said.