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Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union

United States Supreme Court
521 U.S. 844 (1997)


Facts

The “indecent transmission” provision of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) prohibited the knowing transmission of obscene or indecent messages via the internet to any recipient under the age of eighteen. The “patently offensive display” provision of the CDA prohibited the knowing, sending, or displaying of patently offensive messages in a manner that is available to a person under eighteen years of age. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (plaintiff) brought suit in federal district court against Reno (defendant), Attorney General of the United States, on the grounds that the CDA violated the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech. The district court found the CDA unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. Reno appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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