ILNews

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. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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