High Court refuses to hear professors’ challenge to Internet restrictions

VIRGINIA — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear afree-speech challenge by six university professors to a Virginia law barringstate employees from accessing sexually explicit material while using government-ownedcomputers.

In the case, Urofsky v. Gilmore,the professors, along with theAmerican Civil Liberties Union, argued the law infringed upon their FirstAmendment rights and academic freedom.

The1996 law requires professors and other state employees to get writtenpermission from a supervisor in order to gain access to sexually explicitmaterial online.

A federal judge sided with the professors in May 1998 and ruled thatthe law violated state employees constitutional right to freedom of expression.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned thelower court’s ruling, saying the law, intended to discourage state employeesfrom viewing pornography at work, was consistent with the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court dismissed the case without comment, effectively lettingstand the ruling by the Fourth Circuit upholding the law. Urofsky v.Gilmore,216 F.3d 401 (4th Cir. 2000) cert. denied, 2001 U.S. LEXIS134 (2001).

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit inUrofskyv. Gilmoreis available online at: http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/getopn.pl?OPINION=981481A.P