The Justice Department today filed an official notice to appeal a recent decision by a three-judge panel in New York to reject the federal Communications Decency Act.
The department is appealing a June 29 ruling in Manhattan federal court that the CDA is overly broad and unconstitutional. The decision supported claims by plaintiff Joe Shea, editor of the American Reporter online newspaper, that the law infringes free-speech rights on the Internet that would otherwise be protected in print, and prevents adults from accessing constitutionally protected speech.
The move follows a government appeal to another high-profile challenge to the decency law filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Library Association in Philadelphia. A special three-judge panel in that case also ruled against the CDA.
Justice Department attorneys notified Shea's lawyers of the new appeal in a letter today. Lawyers on all sides expect the cases to be consolidated because they both agree that the CDA is unconstitutional.
"The two cases will probably be consolidated in the Supreme Court, and I'm very hopeful for a favorable ruling," said Wayne Metelski, a lawyer representing Shea. "I think the fact that two three-judge panels of two courts have unanimously ruled that the indecency provisions of the CDA are unconstitutional is a very good sign that the provisions are in fact violations of the Constitution. And I think the Supreme Court will agree."
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