Congress and the Courts Battle over the First Amendment: Can the Law Really Protect Children from Pornography on the Internet?


Mitchell P. Goldstein


VOL. XXI • Winter 2003 • NO. 2 (table of contents)

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21 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 141


Litigation and court action have provided little in the way of providing solutions to anyone dealing with inappropriate content on the Internet. In Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973). The court refused to establish a national standard and instead relied on community standards. Because the Internet has no geographic limitations, one cannot determine community standards because the Internet is so far reaching. Goldstein discusses in detail these Congressional enactments: Communications Decency Act of 1996, the Child Online Protection Act, and the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, finding that none of them give children protection from pornography. The challenge for the Court is to put an end to the litigation created by Miller by clearly defining how Miller works in a world that is no longer divided by space and time. It must decide whether it wants to establish a national or local test for community standards.

Author Footnote:

Mitchell Goldstein is the Director of the Virginia General Assembly's Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS). He received his J.D., cum laude, from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond in 1996 and his B.A. in International Relations and Economics, cum laude, from Boston University in 1993. Mr. Goldstein advises and counsels members of JCOTS, the House Committee on Science and Technology and other standing committees on science and technology issues for legislation and policy development. He is also a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Communications, Technology and Interstate Commerce Committee.

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