American Booksellers Association, Inc. v. Webb

919 F.2d 1493 (11th Cir. 1990), rev’g 643 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Ga. 1986)

On December 27, 1990, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found the Georgia harmful to minors law constitutional but narrowed the scope of the law to limits on display only if the material is harmful to the oldest minors. The Court then reasoned that the law is not overbroad because only a minimal amount of material is legal for adults but illegal for 17 year olds. The Court also found that the library exemption in the statute does not violate the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment.

In April 1984, Georgia enacted a law that would restrict the display of materials harmful to minors in public places where minors may be present. The law provides exemption for some libraries in the state.

Media Coalition filed a lawsuit on behalf of some of its members in the U.S. District Court of Northern Georgia, arguing that the law violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the “one subject matter” provision of the Georgia Constitution.

In September 1986, U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob held the display provision unconstitutional, because it was overly broad and burdened the First Amendment rights of authors, publishers, booksellers and adult readers. The Court also held that the law would have a substantial chilling effect. It also found that the library exemption violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Plaintiffs: American Booksellers Association, Inc.; Association of American Publishers; Council for Periodical Distributors Associations; National Association of College Stores, Inc.; Georgia Retail Association; Oxford Books, Inc.; Stuart C. Woods