ILNews

Judge strikes down new obscene-material law

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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On the day a new Indiana law was set to take effect, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker struck it down as being unconstitutionally vague, overbroad, and a violation of the First Amendment.

The 31-page ruling was issued by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, this afternoon in Big Hat Books, et al. v. Prosecutors, 1:08-CV-00596, a challenge to House Enrolled Act 1042 that would have required any person or organization wanting to sell literature or other material deemed harmful to minors under Indiana law to register with the Secretary of State and pay a $250 filing fee.

Plaintiffs, which included the Indianapolis Museum of Art, booksellers, and multiple publishing organizations, claimed that the new law is unconstitutionally vague, an unjustified content-based restriction on activity that is protected, is irrational and violates due process, and is a content-based punitive tax on First Amendment protected materials.

Judge Barker granted final summary judgment in the case, holding that it "unduly burdens First Amendment rights, and is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad."

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana that had filed the suit, applauded the decision.

"This emphasizes the fact that it's incumbent on the legislature to think about the First Amendment and constitutional rights when they're drafting legislation," he said. "We hope that will happen more in the future."

This story will be updated in Wednesday's Indiana Lawyer Daily and the July 9 issue of Indiana Lawyer.
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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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