June 10, 2005
Groups Sue to Strike Down Utah's Anti-Internet Porn Law
King's English, Inc. v. Shurtleff (D. Utah complaint filed June 9, 2005). As expected, the ACLU is leading a charge against Utah for their latest anti-porn initiative (HB 260). The AP story. Declan's News.com story.
I have already predicted that this law will be struck down as unconstitutional. The complaint itself gets right to the point:
"With respect to the application to the Internet of the criminal provisions relating to distribution to minors of harmful to minors materials, 18 federal judges, including three Courts of Appeal, as well as one State Supreme Court, have struck down as unconstitutional laws in Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin similar to the Act. In addition, the United States Supreme Court invalidated a similar federal law on First Amendment grounds in Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1997), aff'g 929 F. Supp. 824 (E.D.Pa. 1996)."
This is slightly overstated because the laws do vary, but it does nicely illustrate the overwhelming odds against this law being constitutional. Indeed, although the complaint doesn't say it, I'm pretty sure that none of the challenged laws have survived the challenge (at least, in any meaningful way).
When this act is struck down, we will complete yet another wasteful cycle of legislators who grandstand about Internet porn without regard to the civil liberties they implicate and the costs they impose on society at large (and on watchdog groups like the ACLU). If you're not already a member of the ACLU (I've been a member for almost 20 years), you might consider joining to help fund expensive and unfortunately-necessary efforts like this.