Justice Is Blind, But Net Savvy

How a court was persuaded to overturn the indecency law

The two federal judges arrived early at the Philadelphia U.S. District courthouse on the morning of Mar. 21. But instead of taking their usual seats on the bench, Dolores K. Sloviter and Stewart R. Dalzell started checking the electrical wiring. It was no ordinary day. The first-ever trial of free speech on the Internet was about to begin--complete with a live demonstration of the new medium in the freshly wired chambers. After the third judge, Ronald L. Buckwalter, appeared, the court historian snapped some photos for posterity. "Everyone in the room felt we were involved in making history," says Chris Hansen, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

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