Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
Melvin I. Urofsky, et al. v. James S. Gilmore, III
216 F.3d 401 (4th Cir., Feb. 10, 1999), cert. denied 2001 U.S. Dist. Lexis 134 (2001)
The Fourth Circuit, reversing the District Court, held that a statute titled "Restrictions on State Employee Access to Information Infrastructure," Va. Code Ann. § 2.1-804 et seq. (the "Act") did not violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Act, among other things, prohibits State employees from utilizing State computers to access Internet sites containing "sexually explicit content" unless they obtain written approval from their agency head that such use is "required in conjunction with a bona fide research project or other [agency approved] undertaking."
Plaintiffs were professors employed at public colleges and/or universities who claimed that the Act interfered with their performance of their duties by preventing them from using state- owned computers to access "sexually explicit content" on the Internet. One professor claimed that the Act prevented him from assigning an online research project on indecency law because he was afraid he would violate the Act if he attempted to verify his students' work on the Internet. Another professor claimed that the Act prevented him from accessing sexually explicit poetry in connection with his study of Victorian poets.
Plaintiffs contended that the Act violated their First Amendment rights. The Fourth Circuit disagreed, and held that the Act represented a permissible restriction on the manner in which State employees performed their duties.