Cyberspace Communications, Inc. v. Engler

142 F. Supp. 2d 827 (E.D. Mich. 2001), remanded, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000), aff’g 55 F. Supp. 2d 737 (E.D. Mich. 1999)

Summary
Michigan’s harmful to minors law as applied to the Internet was ruled unconstitutional on June 1, 2001. The Act sought to criminalize the distribution of “sexually explicit matter” to minors that was otherwise constitutionally protected material for adults. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan found that the statute was not narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest nor did it employ the least restrictive means available to reach that goal, and was therefore unconstitutional [2].

History
The district court granted [4] plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Act on July 19, 1999. Defendants appealed the injunction in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which affirmed the injunction [3] and remanded the case for further proceedings back to the district court, where the Act was permanently enjoined from enforcement.

Media Coalition members submitted an amicus curiae brief [1] in the Sixth Circuit. The brief was signed by: American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, International Periodical Distributors Association, Magazine Publishers of America, National Association of College Stores, Periodical and Book Association of America, Publishers Marketing Association, and Recording Industry Association of America.

The group’s brief argued that Michigan’s harmful to minors law as applied to the Internet violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments because it effectively proscribed speech that is constitutionally protected for adults. Furthermore, it was essentially the same as statutes that had been struck down by the Supreme Court in Reno v. ACLU and by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in ACLU v. Johnson, where Media Coalition members were plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs in this case were Cyberspace Communications, Arbornet, Marty Klein, AIDS Partnership of Michigan, Art on the Net, Mark Amerika, Web Del Sol, Glad Day Bookshop, Litline and the ACLU of Michigan.