- Motion to Amend Judgment for Awarding of Legal Fees
- Media Coalition's Press Release on the Decision
- Sixth Circuit's Decision in ABFFE v. Cordray
- Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Ohio's Supplemental Brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Sixth Circuit Request for Further Briefing
- OH Supreme Court Answers to Certified Questions
- Ohio's Brief on the Merits in the Ohio Supreme Court
- Petitioner/Respondents' Brief on the Merits to the Ohio Supreme Court
- Ohio's Brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Plaintiffs' brief in Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Judge Rice's September 25, 2007 Decision Permanently Enjoining the Law
- Media Coalition press release
- Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
- Sixth Circuit order to remand
- District Court Judge Rice's opinion
- The complaint filed in District Court
- Press release about the filing of the lawsuit
- Ohio House Bill 8
This case was a challenge to an Ohio law that attempted to apply the state’s harmful to minors statute to the Internet. Media Coalition challenged the law, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck it down in April 2010.
History: On October 20, 2009, the Supreme Court heard arguments on two certified questions from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The questions asked for guidance on the breadth of the law being challenged.
June 3, the Ohio Supreme Court voted 4-3 to accept the two questions asking for statutory interpretation of the law posed to them by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Plaintiffs filed a brief last spring in the Sixth Circuit in a cross-appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Rice’s ruling that found a “harmful to minors” statute unconstitutional as applied to the Internet. Media Coalition filed a brief on the merits on August 10, 2009. The State of Ohio filed a reply brief with the Ohio Supreme Court on September 21, 2009.
On October 20, 2009, the Supreme Court heard arguments on two certified questions from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The questions asked for guidance on the breadth of the law being challenged.
On January 27, 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court answered the certified questions asked by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court ruled that the law should be read in that those who post material on generally-accessible websites and chatrooms cannot be prosecuted under this law. The case went back to the Sixth Circuit.
On April 7, 2010, plaintiffs and Media Coalition members along with the Attorney General of Ohio filed supplemental briefs with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that addressed the Ohio Supreme Court’s answers to the certified questions asked by the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit requested supplemental briefing by both parties on March 26, 2010, in light of the Ohio Supreme Court’s January 27 decision.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on April 15, 2010 that the statute at issue, which would impose fines and prison terms for providing non-obscene sexually-explicit material to minors, cannot be applied to communications on websites, in public chatrooms, and through email listservs and mailing lists. On June 21, Media Coalition submitted a motion to amend judgment for awarding of legal fees.
Background: On May 6, 2002, a complaint was filed in the United States District Court in Dayton, Ohio, challenging an Ohio statutory amendment. Part of the amendment defines “harmful to juveniles” as including material that contains depictions or descriptions of violence, cruelty, foul words, and glorification of crime. The statute also applies the harmful to minors law to the internet in a manner similar to laws challenged by Media Coalition in Arizona, New Mexico, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia, as well as a Michigan law.
On August 2, 2002, District Court Judge Rice granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, enjoining enforcement of the Ohio statute because the definition of “harmful to juveniles” is unconstitutionally overbroad. The case was appealed to the Sixth Circuit.Subsequently, the Ohio legislature adopted an amendment in December 2002 that eliminated most of the overbroad problems with the definition of “harmful to juveniles,” but did not correct the unconstitutionality of the application of the law to the Internet. The Attorney General’s office made a motion with the Sixth Circuit to remand the case to Judge Rice for further action in light of the amendment. The Sixth Circuit remanded the case in late June, 2003 and ordered that the preliminary injunction remain in effect.Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on August 6, 2003 and a motion for summary judgment on September 22, 2003. On September 27, 2004, District Court Judge Rice sustained in part and overruled in part the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and the defendants’ summary judgment motion. On September 24, 2007, the judge issued a final opinion striking down the “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet on First Amendment grounds but not the Commerce Clause. Media Coalition issued a press release on that decision. In February 2008, the state appealed the ruling in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in March plaintiffs appealed the part of the ruling that found the law did not violate the Commerce Clause.
Media Coalition filed a fee application, the state responded to the fee application, and Media Coalition replied to their response. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals certified two questions to the Ohio Supreme Court asking for statutory interpretation of the law. The appeal was argued in the Sixth Circuit on December 12, 2008. Plaintiffs filed a brief that spring in the Sixth Circuit in a cross-appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Rice’s ruling that found a “harmful to minors” statute unconstitutuional as applied to the Internet. Plaintiffs in the suit include Wilkie News, American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of Recording Merchandisers, Ohio Newspaper Association, The Sexual Health Network, Inc., and Video Software Dealers of America.