September 20th, 2010 | by NIGEL JAQUISS Arts & Books | Posted In: Books

Powell's, ACLU and Allies Beat Anti-Porn Law at U.S. Court of Appeals

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Powell's Books and a slew of co-plaintiffs from the arenas of publishing, civil rights and public health have won the latest round in a dispute over Oregon laws that deal with how law enforcement treats sexually explicit published materials.

Powell's and its allies argued against the Oregon Department of Justice that the state laws are too broad; today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed [PDF] with Powell's, reversing an earlier U.S. District Court ruling.

Here's a summary of the ruling:
The statutes broadly take aim at practices of “luring” and “grooming” that expose minors to sexually explicit materials in the hopes of lowering their inhibitions against engaging in sexual conduct. The “furnishing” statute, Oregon Revised Statutes § 167.054 (“section 054”), criminalizes providing children under the age of thirteen with sexually explicit material. The “luring” statute, § 167.057 (“section 057”), criminalizes providing minors under the age of eighteen with visual, verbal, or narrative descriptions of sexual conduct for the purpose of sexually arousing the minor or the furnisher, or inducing the minor to engage in sexual conduct.

Appellants, a broad cross-section of booksellers; non-profit literary, legal, and health organizations; and a concerned grandmother (together, “Powell's Books”), argue that these statutes violate the First Amendment. In particular, Powell's Books claims, among other things, that the statutes are facially overbroad and criminalize a substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech. We agree.

For this reason, we conclude that Oregon Revised Statutes §§ 167.054 and 167.057 (except the “inducing” prong, which is not at issue here) are unconstitutionally overbroad and must be invalidated.

Tony Green, a spokesman for Attorney General John Kroger, says DOJ officials are reviewing the ruling.
 
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