March 6, 1997 6:15 PM ET
U.S. to submit final CDA legal briefs to Supreme Court tomorrow
By Maria Seminerio

  Two weeks after a coalition of opponents to the Communications Decency Act submitted their final briefs to the Supreme Court, supporters of the controversial law are expected to submit their own final legal briefs Friday.

The summation of the Justice Department's defense of the legislation is likely to echo a preliminary brief, presented to the high court in January, in which department officials argued the legislation would increase Internet usage by freeing users from concerns about inadvertently stumbling onto pornographic content.

The high court agreed in December to review the arguments for and against the CDA after a panel of judges ruled it unconstitutional and temporarily barred its enforcement in June. CDA opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union, responded with their own brief on Feb. 20. The Supreme Court hearing is set to begin March 19.

The CDA, passed as part of the far-reaching Telecommunications Act of 1996, would criminalize the willful transmission of "indecent" material to Internet pages and newsgroups accessible by children. Violators would be subject to up to two years in prison and fines of as much as $250,000.

Another group of CDA opponents, the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition, which represents about 55,000 individual Internet users, has posted a "Countdown to the Supreme Court" icon on its Web site (see story, "Countdown to CDA hearing posted on CIEC site").

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