Friday, July 25, 2008

Indiana Limits Freedom of Speech Where the Content Might Be Harmful to Minors (update 4)

I'm not quite sure how I missed this, but apparently Steve Carter, Indiana's Attorney General, has decided not to appeal the recent federal court decision striking down Indiana's law requiring businesses to register prior to selling "sexually explicit" materials.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2008

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter will offer Guidance to Lawmakers Seeking a Fix to a Law on Sexually Explicit Material

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – This week’s ruling by a federal district court judge striking down a new law that would have required retailers selling sexually explicit material to register with the state will not be appealed announced Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter today.

“The next general assembly session will provide legislators with an opportunity to explore ways to address the weaknesses of the statute,” Carter said. “The attorney general’s office is available to consult with lawmakers if they choose to pursue revised language to meet their objectives.”

United States District Judge Sarah Evans Barker struck down HEA 1042 on Tuesday, the day that the law was scheduled to take effect. The law would have required people who planned to sell sexually explicit materials to register with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office and pay a $250 filing fee. The law also required retailers to state the types of materials they intended to sell. Barker ruled that the statute was unconstitutionally broad.

Given how badly the State was thrashed in Judge Barker's opinion (see Indiana Limits Freedom of Speech Where the Content Might Be Harmful to Minors (update 3)) and how poorly drafted the law was (not to mention how poorly conceived the entire idea is in the first place...), the decision not to appeal is not entirely surprising. I wonder whether Attorney General Carter would have appealed the ruling if he had been running for re-election (so as not to be seen as going "easy" on pornography...)?

I love the note in the press release that lawmakers will have the opportunity to "explore ways to address the weaknesses of the statute" and that the Attorney General's office is available to consult. Hopefully, that consultation will include a brief overview of the concept of the First Amendment.

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