The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday struck down two Oregon laws that criminalized providing minors with “sexually explicit” materials, calling the statutes overly broad and a violation of the First Amendment.
Although the 2007 legislation was intended to target “hardcore pornography” and prevent the sexual abuse of children, the court found it could be applied to a wide array of materials, “ranging from standard sexual education materials to novels for children and young adults by Judy Blume.”
The decision came as a result of a lawsuit filed by a coalition of publishers and booksellers that included Dark Horse Comics and Powell’s Books, and supported by organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.
Lawyers with the Oregon Department of Justice are studying the opinion, and haven’t decide whether to appeal the ruling, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Legal | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund joined a coalition of booksellers and other organizations in a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday to challenge an expansion of Massachusetts’ obscenity law to include distribution via the Internet of material “harmful to minors.”
The new law, which went into effect on Monday, is intended to close a loophole that led the state Supreme Court to overturn the conviction of a man accused of sending sexually explicit instant messages to someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Following the February ruling, the state Legislature swiftly to add IMs, text messages, email and other electronic communications to the existing obscenity law.
But the coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Association of American Publishers, argues that the law is too broad, and “bans constitutionally protected speech on the Internet for topics including contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature, and art.” Under the statute, violators can be fined $10,000 or sentenced up to five years in prison, or both, which the group asserts will cause “a chilling effect” or online booksellers. [The Associated Press, CBLDF press release]