Local News

Lawyers File Supreme Court Brief on CD-ROM

Posted February 22, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A group of Philadelphia lawyers are pushing the U.S. Supreme Court into cyberspace with a groundbreaking brief filed in CD-ROM format.

The brief, presented by the law firm of Schnader Harrison Degal & Lewis, supports a challenge to the Communications Decency Act, signed into law by President Clinton Feb. 8, 1996. The law makes it a crime to use a computer to transmit or display "indecent" material that might be accessible to anyone under the age of 18.

Schnader, et al prepared the brief on behalf of 25 individuals and organizations allied with the American Civil Liberties Union. That group opposes the law on the grounds that it is too restrictive, and could prevent access to Internet publication of some valuable health information, news, literature and art.

The attorneys are presenting the 15 CD-ROMs along with the same information on paper as required by the Supreme Court. The court agreed to accept the CD-ROMs which will be treated much like video and audio tapes in other cases. The CD-ROM brief is interactive, with colorful illustrations and hyperlinks to other Internet sites.

The Supreme Court has the technology to use the CD-ROMs, although justices do not have access to the Internet on their individual computers. They will have to use one of two computers with Internet access. One is the the Supreme Court library and one is in a technology room.

James D. Crawford, the lead lawyer for the brief, says his group is hoping that use of Internet technology to research this case will give justices a different perspective and will add to the impact of the fight against censorship on the World Wide Web.