Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition

535 U.S. 234 (2002), aff’g sub nom. Free Speech Coal. v. Reno, 198 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 1999)


On January 27, 1997, the Free Speech Coalition commenced a lawsuit in the federal court in San Francisco, challenging the constitutionality of the CPPA and seeking a declaratory judgment of unconstitutionality. On August 12, 1997, Judge Conti granted the government’s motion for  judgment  on the pleadings and and denied plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. An amicus brief[1] was filed in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Association of Publishers, the Directors Guild of America, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the International Periodical Distributors Association, the Periodical and Book Association of America, the Publishers Marketing Association, the Video Dealers Software Association, and General Media. On December 17, 1999, the Ninth Circuit panel, by a vote of 2-1, found the CPPA unconstitutional[2]. The United States filed a petition for en banc rehearing before the Ninth Circuit, which was denied.

Certiorari was granted by the U.S. Supreme Court. An amicus brief[3] was filed in July 2001 on behalf of AAP, ABFFE, FTRF, IPDA, MPA, PMA and VSDA.

On April 16, 2002, the Supreme Court handed down a decision holding the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) unconstitutional. It was argued before the court on October 30, 2001. Click here[4] for a syllabus of the decision. Justice Kennedy wrote the court’s opinion[5], with Justice Thomas concurring[6]. Justice Rehnquist authored the dissenting opinion[7]. Justice O’Connor also wrote an opinion[8] dissenting in part and concurring in part.

Last updated: Sep 15, 2017