Judge Strikes Down Law in Urofsky Case

(February 27, 1998)  U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema yesterday held unconstitutional a Virginia statute barring state employees from using their state owned computers to access sexually explicit materials.  State employees have first amendment right to use their computers at work to download sexual explicit materials.

Section 2.1-804-806 of the Virginia Code prevented state employees from using their computers to download, post, or transmit sexually explicit materials.  It contained an exception for a "bona fide, agency-approved research project".

Brinkema wrote in her decision that the law seemed "intended to discourage discourse on sexual topics."  Brinkema is a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, in Alexandria, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ACLU challenged the statute on behalf of a group of six English, history, and psychology professors employed by the State of Virginia.   The ruling is the fourth in a string of similar victories by the ACLU. "How many more challenges do we have to bring before lawmakers stop trying to impose unconstitutional restrictions on virtual speech?" said ACLU attorney Ann Beeson in a press release issued after the decision.  The ACLU is also litigating a challenge to blocking software in public libraries in Loudon County, Virginia.

Related Story: Court Holds Hearing in Loudoun Case.