Marjorie Heins

Marjorie Heins is the founding director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Arts Censorship Project and director of the Free Expression Policy Project at the National Coalition Against Censorship. She is also the author of Sex, Sin and Blasphemy: A Guide to America's Censorship Wars and of Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth (Hill & Wang, spring 2001). She was an attorney for the plaintiffs in ACLU v. Reno, the successful First Amendment challenge to the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

Recent Articles

Screening Out Sex

When the Supreme Court overturned the Communications Decency Act, it was a triumph for civil liberties. Now new forms of censorship threaten to cut off young people's legitimate access to sexual information in cyberspace.

W ould a teenager be harmed by reading Angels in America , the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play? What about viewing erotic Indian sculptures? Or discussing sex in an internet chat room? What harm to minors do various kinds of sexual speech actually cause? These questions have taken on new urgency now that the Supreme Court has set aside the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the nation is moving toward the widespread use of blocking software to enable schools, libraries, and parents to screen out sexual speech from the Internet. When the Court overturned the CDA last year in Reno v. ACLU , the decision seemed a major turning point in favor of free expression. But much of the new blocking software is based on the unsubstantiated premise that broad barriers to information and discussion about sex serve the interests of young people. Rather than increasing opportunities for kids to learn and talk about sex, America seems poised to close them up. This trend is especially...