Supreme Court Turns Down Case Examining State Email Laws

March 30, 2009
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As reported by CNN.com, in the final chapter of a lengthy battle to uphold state email legislation by the Virginia state A.G., the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to further examine how far states can go in passing laws on commercial email regulation. They rejected an appeal by the state of Virginia to uphold its Computer Crimes Act, which broadly attempts to ban both unsolicited commercial and non-commercial email, political, religious or otherwise. This comes after the Virginia Supreme Court declared the state’s law unconstitutional, ruling that it infringed on First Amendment rights.

The decision was made in response to an appeal by Jeremy Jaynes, who was previously sentenced to nine years in prison under the Virginia law for sending mass email using false domains and IP addresses. The law made it a misdemeanor to send bulk unsolicited email using false routing info and a felony if more than 1o,000 messages were sent in 24 hours. Virginia was one of the first states to pass its own anti-spam legislation. Other states have subsequently crafted laws which apply specifically to commercial email, instead of targeting all unsolicited email.

“This is a predictable move on the part of t

As reported by CNN.com, in the final chapter of a lengthy battle to uphold state email legislation by the Virginia state A.G., the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to further examine how far states can go in passing laws on commercial email regulation. They rejected an appeal by the state of Virginia to uphold its Computer Crimes Act, which broadly attempts to ban both unsolicited commercial and non-commercial email, political, religious or otherwise. This comes after the Virginia Supreme Court declared the state’s law unconstitutional, ruling that it infringed on First Amendment rights.

The decision was made in response to an appeal by Jeremy Jaynes, who was previously sentenced to nine years in prison under the Virginia law for sending mass email using false domains and IP addresses. The law made it a misdemeanor to send bulk unsolicited email using false routing info and a felony if more than 1o,000 messages were sent in 24 hours. Virginia was one of the first states to pass its own anti-spam legislation. Other states have subsequently crafted laws which apply specifically to commercial email, instead of targeting all unsolicited email.

“This is a predictable move on the part of the US Supreme Court, which rejects hearing most cases brought to it. The Virginia anti-spam law was one of the first laws of its kind passed on the state level. As often happens, the untested language in the legislation was overly broad and -in hindsight- widely considered unconstitutional in that it grouped potential religious and political speech with commercial speech- which is given less protection,” stated James O’Brien, Director of Marketing, LashBack. “The good news is that Jaynes remains behind bars on other related charges and other states have used more granular language to avoid similar problems with the constitutionality of their email legislation.”

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