ACLU wins big in Decency Act battle

The ACLU claimed another victory in its continuing battle against the Communications Decency Act (CDA) as the Justice Department today agreed to hold off prosecution until a District Court completes its hearing of the case.

The ACLU claimed another victory in its continuing battle against the Communications Decency Act (CDA) as the Justice Department today agreed to hold off prosecution until a District Court completes its hearing of the case.

A District Court Panel has set March 21 as the formal trial date for the suit filed by the ACLU. The trial is expected to last five days. The ACLU will deliver its case on March 21, 22, and April 1. The government will deliver its case on April 11 and 12.

"We have made an agreement with the government to go to court on March 21," said Ann Beeson, legal counsel with the ACLU. "The government has agreed not to prosecute or begin investigations until the hearing is over," she said.

Last week Judge Ronald Buckwalter blocked the "indecent" provision of the Act on the grounds that the definition of the term indecent was too vague. But a provision that covers "patently offensive" material including "sexual or excretory activities or organs" remained in effect. The new agreement between the ACLU and the government means that no one will be prosecuted under any aspect of the law until a judgment is rendered.

The trial set for March 21 may be only the first act for a much longer period of legal work thereafter. "If we lose, we will file the appeal with the Supreme Court, and they would decide whether or not to take on the case. It would probably get set next term, but it could get there as soon as the fall," Beeson said.

Regardless of the outcome, Beeson said this is a victory for the online community. "The government can't prosecute anyone now, and that is a victory in itself," she said. "In the meantime we're going to race around to put on a good trial and overturn the law."

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