For years, Neil Horsely has been just a click away from controversy. His anti-abortion Web site lists the names and addresses of abortion doctors across the country. Whenever one is killed, Horsely marks them off his list. Recently, however, Horsely's Internet provider, Mindspring, put a mark through his name and an end to his site. CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports.
"All of a sudden without any warning, without a sound from anything, I looked around and the Web site was gone," says Horsely.
Horsely has filed a $251 million lawsuit against Mindspring claiming breach of contract and violation of his First Amendment rights.
Mindspring declined CBS News' request for in interview. In a written statement, a company spokesman said Horsely's service was terminated for violating the company's "appropriate use policy."
"These Internet providers are not policemen," Horsely continues. "They're not government officials and they do not have the right to run over people. They say they're involved in self regulation. The reality is they're not regulating themselves, they're regulating people like me."
First Amendment expert Floyd Abrams says Horsely's case may not have merit, although it may open the floodgates to more lawsuits.
"There's going to be a lot more of these cases," says Abrams. "There are going to be a lot more complaints, that you shouldn't carry this, or you shouldn't carry that. Again, I think they have a right to make a decision about what to carry and what not."
In a separate case last February, a federal jury in Oregon found that anti-abortionists who were contributing to Horsely's Web site went beyond constitutional free speech, and ordered them to pay $100 million in damages.
As for Neal Horsely, he has found a new Internet provider: himself. As for his fight with Mindspring, Horsely says it's not over.
"I will not give up my constitutional rights because these people have billions of dollars," says Horsely. "And I will by God's grace find a way to resist them. And what if they say, 'here's a half million dollars, leave us alone'? Well, I'm not an unreasonable man."
Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.
CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff