High Court to Hear Child Online Protection Act Case Again [3]

On Tuesday, October 14, the Supreme Court agreed to again hear a case to determine whether a law that looks to protect children from online pornography is constitutional. The bill, the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), signed into law in 1998, makes it a crime for any commercial Web site to distribute to a minor material considered to be "harmful to minors." It will be the second time in two years that the Supreme Court will hear the case.

In May 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a Third U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that the statute was invalid because harmfulness is to be weighed by "community standards," meaning that the most restrictive community's norms would become the standard for even the most tolerant communities. The Supreme Court then asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to examine the law once again. In early March 2003, the Court of Appeals ruled that the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is unconstitutional. The court found that COPA violates adults' right to free speech, is overly broad, and fails "the strict scrutiny test." The Justice Department appealed the court's second ruling to the high court.