Laws against sexually explicit books to minors overturned
In an attempt to shield children from sexually arousing materials, Oregon passed two laws in 2007. The first was addressed to those under 13 and excluded all books containing sexually explicit content. The second law restricted sexual references to those under 18.
Bookstore owners, librarians, publishers and sex-education professionals challenged the laws in court. They claimed that although the laws were well-intentioned to target sexual predators, they put parents and others at risk of jail time or fines. They argued that if the laws were allowed to stand, a 17-year-old who lends her younger sister a copy of Judy Blume’s “Forever” could be arrested and prosecuted. Likewise, a health-ed teacher could be charged with a felony for discussing safe sex with anyone under 18.
In September, 2010, a federal appeals court found both laws unconstitutional as overbroad and an infringement of free speech rights. States may restrict a minor’s access to materials found harmful to them. “However, speech that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate proscription cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legislative body thinks unsuitable for them.”
Find out more about censorship and the First Amendment here.