A Massachusetts statute prohibiting the distribution by electronic means of material deemed "harmful to minors" likely violates the First Amendment and therefore its enforcement should be preliminarily enjoined, a district court ruled. The action was brought by plaintiffs who distributed "sexually frank" material intended for adults by means of generally accessible Internet Web sites, and who argued that they could not discern the ages of users who accessed their sites. The court concluded that the statute was constitutionally defective because it lacked any requirement that the material in question be disseminated to a recipient whom the sender knew to be a minor. The court declined to construe the statute to contain such a requirement, commenting that the revision of a state statute by a federal court would be "inappropriate."
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114750 (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2010) Download PDF
Editor’s Note: See also, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan, No. 03:10-cv-0193 (D. Alaska Oct. 20, 2010) (preliminarly enjoining a similar Alaska statute on constitutional grounds).