Activist Judge Blocks Law Protecting Minors From Filth Online

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young temporarily blocked enforcement of a new Indiana law requiring porn sites to implement age verification services.

Young, who has a history of activism from the bench, ruled that the law was “likely unconstitutional” after a lawsuit was brought against the Indiana attorney general by the Free Speech Coalition and several pornography lobbyists. Though several courts have already given the green light to similar regulations — and the Supreme Court has declined to block them — Indiana must now wait for a full review of Senate Enrolled Act 17 by a higher court.

If an adult website consists of more than one-third “material harmful to minors,” or pornography, the bill requires them to institute an age verification method such as a “mobile credential,” or scan of a driver’s license or other form of ID; an “independent third party age verification service” that compares identifying information entered by the individual with a commercial database; or any other commercially reasonable method that “relies on public or private transactional data,” such as what can be provided by a credit card.

In his order granting the preliminary injunction, Young parrots the argument of the Free Speech Coalition, that pornography access is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment. As a result, he says, laws regulating its distribution must pass “strict scrutiny” or be the “least restrictive means” of accomplishing a compelling government interest.

However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court has already ruled on an equivalent Texas law that, based on the precedent set in Ginsberg v. New York (1968), the distribution of obscene or sexually explicit materials to minors is subject to the much lower standard of rational-basis review. The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of this decision but declined to block enforcement of the Texas law in the interim. (Read more from “Activist Judge Blocks Law Protecting Minors From Filth Online” HERE)

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