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SPJ's response to judges' communications decency act decision

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The judges made a wise first step by halting enforcement of the act," said G. Kelly Hawes, president of the Society of Professional Journalists. "We now have to continue to push for a complete strike-down of the law. We've said all along we were not involved in this lawsuit because we supported indecency on the Internet. We are involved because we did not want to see government regulating free speech and because we truly didn't understand what would have constituted indecent communication. The law created a mine field for anyone trying to communicate on-line."

SPJ has been active in the fight against the Communications Decency Act since February when it joined other media groups in a lawsuit saying the act infringed on classic press freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Other SPJ leaders agreed with Hawes.

"Journalists shouldn't suffer a double standard for First Amendment protection just because pandering politicians passed this unconscionable measure of unprecedented censorship," said Kyle Niederpruem, SPJ's freedom of information chairwoman. "If plaintiffs continue to make persuasive arguments that people don't want their on-line publications censored, journalists will continue to tell the truth in an unfettered manner-even in cyberspace. Let's hope common sense continues to prevail in this challenge before we allow politicians to put undue restrictions on a new medium that is changing the world as we know it."

"The judges made the only decision they could, given the facts of this case and the First Amendment," said Steve Geimann, president-elect of SPJ and senior editor of Communications Daily. "But this free speech victory is just a first step, and the battle may not be over. The Congress still has an obligation to fix this error in what is otherwise landmark legislation."

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