/ September 15, 2008

CAN-SPAM Indeed…

Dedicated Fastcase Blog readers may remember a decision we wrote about back in February, which upheld a conviction in the state of Virginia for the world’s eighth worst spammer.  This winter, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the conviction should stand, finding that Jaynes’ First Amendment rights had not been violated, and rejecting his interpretation of the Inter-State Commerce Clause.  However, shortly after the decision was handed down, the court agreed to re-consider Jaynes’ the question of free speech without explanation.  Last week, in a unanimous decision, the Virginia Supreme Court has reversed that decision.

Jaynes’ prolific spamming campaign would be considered illegal under both the federal CAN-SPAM Act and Virginia’s anti-spamming legislation.  However, the federal law was not yet in effect when the spamming in question took place, and the court now finds Virginia’s law to be unconstitutionally overbroad.  Jaynes argues, and the court agrees, that because Virginia’s law outlaws all types of spam, including religious and political speech, it is in violation of the First Amendment.

Judge G. Steven Agee wrote:

the law ”is unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails, including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
While Jaynes sent out strictly commercial emails, the law, and his conviction, have been struck down.  So for now, Jaynes is off the hook.  For all of our sakes, lets hope he finds a new profession.

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