Suit challenges new sexually explicit retailer law

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Several Indiana arts and publishing organizations have joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in a suit challenging the state's new law that requires sellers of sexually explicit material to register and pay a fee to the state.

The ACLU of Indiana, along with the Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association, Freedom to Read Association, Big Hat Books, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and other groups, yesterday filed the suit, Big Hat Books, Boxcar Books and Community Center Inc., et al. v. Prosecutors, 1:08-CV-00596, in the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana against every county prosecutor. The plaintiffs want a preliminary injunction, and later a permanent injunction, enjoining the enforcement of the statute. The plaintiffs also ask for attorney's fees and all other proper relief.

The suit challenges the constitutionality of House Enrolled Act 1042 that will require any person or organization - including all its employees - that wants 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. The plaintiffs claim the new law, which takes effect July 1, is unconstitutionally vague, an unjustified content-based restriction on activity that is protected, is a content-based punitive tax on First Amendment protected materials, and is irrational and violates due process.

The law doesn't apply to anyone or group who sells sexually explicit materials unless the business location changes after June 30, 2008; however, if a new employee is hired after June 30, he or she will be required to register with the state.

Several of the businesses in the suit are contemplating relocation or expansion in the upcoming months and would be subject to the new law. The plaintiffs worry that any material they sell - books, music, art, photos - that is considered sexually explicit under Indiana statute would require them to register with the state if they relocate even if the material isn't intended for the sale or use by minors, or if they hire a new employee after June 30. The plaintiffs claim having to register would label the businesses and organizations as purveyors of sexually explicit material and harm their reputation.

The suit claims the statue contains no guidance as to what types of materials must be registered with the Secretary of State and will lead to self-censorship in order to avoid the state's registration requirements.

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.