Issue 73, Spring 1999

The Supreme Court has declined to hear teacher Cissy Lacks’ appeal. It is the end of the legal options for the 25-year, award-winning Missouri teacher who was fired for allowing students to use real life language in her creative writing classes (Censorship News 72). NCAC and other free expression groups had filed a friend of the court brief on her behalf.

The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 which bans sexual depictions of anyone who “appears to be” younger than 18, was upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston–overturning a lower court’s ruling that the law is unconstitutionally vague and could prohibit legal adult pornography. A second case is pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. Since this is the first ruling on the constitutionality of the law by a federal appeals court, a differing decision by the Ninth Circuit may prompt Supreme Court review.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Virginia law that restricts state employees from accessing sexually related materials online. Six professors at the state’s public universities challenged the law as a violation of their free speech and academic freedom rights by requiring written approval to download or send material with sexual content. To no avail. The court ruled that the state can constitutionally control the work-related speech of its employees, including access to the Internet.