NEW ORLEANS—After a federal court in Baton Rouge ruled that a law banning certain registered sex offenders from using the internet (La. R.S. §14:91).violated the First Amendment, the State of Louisiana has reimbursed the ACLU $65,000 for its legal fees and declined to appeal the ruling.  In striking down the law as unconstitutional, Judge Brian Jackson of the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana stated that “the near total ban on internet access imposed by the Act unreasonably restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life in today’s world.” This law banned access not only to social networking sites but also to online newspapers and blogs, commercial websites, job application and search boards, and many other internet sites essential to full participation in modern life.

While Governor Jindal initially had referred to the lawsuit as a “disturbing break from reality, even for the ACLU” and had promised to appeal the federal court’s decision, the state eventually chose to abide by Judge Jackson's ruling and reimburse the ACLU for its costs in filing the lawsuit.

In response to the settlement, Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said “the State of Louisiana was wise to settle this case now, because the First Amendment rights of the people of this state must be protected at all times. The taxpayers of Louisiana should not have to bear additional costs in defending a law that should never have been passed in the first place.”

In response to the lawsuit and Judge Jackson's ruling, the Legislature is presently considering a replacement bill that eliminates some of the restrictions. That bill, House Bill 620, contains more clearly defined terms and eliminates some of the restrictions that Judge Jackson found were unlawful.