Judge says anti-sex trafficking law violates 1st Amendment

Jan 8, 2013
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A Federal judge has ruled a Tennessee law aimed at preventing child sex trafficking violates the First Amendment, issuing a restraining order which prevents the state from enforcing the new law.
The law, which passed the Tennessee State Legislature in 2012, was challenged by Backpage.com. Backpage is an online classifieds website similar to Craigslist. However, unlike Craigslist, Backpage has an advertising section for escort services, strippers and other adult services. Craigslist removed their “Adult Services” classified section in September 2010.

Judge says anti-sex trafficking law violates 1st Amendment_1357673359044

In June 2012, Backpage filed suit against Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, along with 31 district attorneys generals across the state. The lawsuit contends that the Tennessee law violates freedom of speech and interstate commerce laws, saying:

“Tennessee Public Charter 1075 would have a chilling effect on free speech online and that it’s unconstitutional, violating the Communication Decency Act of 1996, the First and 14th amendments, and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

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Michael Whiteacre
Michael Whiteacre
10 years ago

Bravo to Judge John T. Nixon, graduate of my alma mater, Vanderbilt University School of Law: “The Constitution tells us that—when freedom of speech hangs in the balance—the state may not use a butcher knife on a problem that requires a scalpel to fix. Nor may a state enforce a law that flatly conflicts with federal law.”

10 years ago

This is probably good news for a couple of new adult services sites launched after Craig’s List pulled the ads: CraigsErotica.com, and BootyCall.com.

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