Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition


Thursday, June 26, 1997

Sydney Rubin 301/654-5991
Megan Lamb 202/828-8893
Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations

Jonah Seiger 202/637-9800
Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Supreme Court today handed down its decision in the challenge to the Communications Decency Act - a landmark ruling that establishes how the First Amendment governing free speech will apply to the newest medium of communications. At a news conference held shortly after the decision by plaintiffs and the attorneys who argued the case, the following statements were made in response to the court ruling:

Bruce J. Ennis, lead attorney from the law firm of Jenner & Block: "In its decision today, the Supreme Court has firmly established that the Internet deserves the highest level of constitutional protection. Because of today's decision, the Internet will be allowed to flourish without government censorship and interference. In this decision, the Court has made clear that Congress cannot restrict constitutionally protected speech on the Internet."

Jerry Berman, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology and coordinator of the plaintiffs group, the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition: "By rejecting the CDA, the Supreme Court has guaranteed that the First Amendment and the free flow of ideas will thrive in the Information Age. Today's decision is not only a victory for free speech, but also for the right of users to surf the net in a manner consistent with family and individual values."

Bill Burrington, Assistant General Counsel and Director of Law and Public Affairs at America Online: "Parents can better decide what is appropriate for their children than government regulation. Parents today can control what comes into their homes from the Internet through easy-to-use technology, such as that provided by every on-line service provider. The challenge now is to make those tools a normal part of the American family's everyday life, and we're well on the road to doing that."

Mary R. Somerville, President of the American Library Association, said: "The Supreme Court's ruling is a victory for librarians, Internet users and everyone who cares about free speech. It means Americans will enjoy access to the same information in cyberspace that we have on library and bookstore shelves."

Barry and Michele Fagin, founders of Families Against Internet Censorship, in Colorado Springs, Colorado: "This is a terrific, pro-family decision. The Court has placed the responsibility for protecting children where it belongs - with us, parents."

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, President of the Media Access Project, said: "The First Amendment was written with quill pens on parchment, but its words have no less meaning on a video monitor screen. Scholars will be studying this decision for years, but you don't have to be a lawyer to understand its message: Congress cannot strangle the Internet. Democracy depends on more, not less, political and social discourse."

Elliot Mincberg, Executive Director of People for the American Way, said: "Today's ruling is an affirmation of the First Amendment and a clear rejection of the views of far-right groups, which sought to exclude communications media for the 21st century from the First Amendment freedoms we enjoy. Our Founding Fathers could not have envisioned the Internet, but they were all too familiar with the kind of government censorship the CDA represented."

Nigel Spicer, President of Microsystems Software, an Internet filtering software maker, said: "The whole world has been waiting for this decision which is model for how a democratic society deals with the free flow of information in a new medium. The U.S. Supreme Court not only has offered guidance to Americans, but to other governments around the world."

Press Releases from CIEC Member Organizations: