U.S. District Judge ruled that a Arizona “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet was unconstitutional.
On August 31, 2000, a complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Arizona (Tucson Division) challenging the Arizona harmful to minors law as applied to the Internet, which is similar to those successfully challenged in New York, New Mexico, Virginia, and Michigan. Plaintiffs include ABFFE, AAP, FTR, NARM, PBAA, PMA, RIAA, VSDA, PSINet, and Changing Hands Bookstore. The case was assigned to Judge Alfredo Marquez.
Shortly before going to trial on February 5, 2001, at the suggestion of the defendants, all parties jointly moved for a stay of the litigation and for entry of an order staying enforcement of the Arizona Internet law, which was granted.
On April 11, 2001, the Governor signed H.B. 2289 in an attempt to cure the constitutional problems of the law, thus technically terminating the stay of litigation (though not the stay of enforcement of the existing statute). However, believing that the new statute was also unconstitutional, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint and motion for injunctive relief. On September 28, 2001, United States District Judge Marquez granted a temporary restraining order, preventing enforcement of the challenged statute.
On February 19, 2002, Judge Marquez found Arizona’s harmful to minors Internet statute unconstitutional on First Amendment, Fifth Amendment (unconstitutionally vague), and Commerce Clause grounds. The state appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Arizona legislature again amended the statute, so the parties filed a joint motion to remand to the District Court. On July 28, 2003 the Ninth Circuit remanded the case to the District Court.
Briefs from both plaintiffs and defendants were exchanged on the effect of the new statue on October 3, 20003 with concurrent replies filed on November 3, 2003. On October 14, 2003, Judge Marquez issued an order granting a preliminary injunction on the amended statute. In November the judge indicated that he believes he no longer has jurisdiction in this case. Using a previous case as a precedent, the Judge said that since a final judgment had been issued prior to the time when the Arizona legislature amended the law, the challenge to the re-amended law should be filed as a new case. Plaintiffs and defendants filed a joint motion on December 17 arguing that because the case was on appeal to the 9th circuit, and remanded by that court to Judge Marquez for consideration of the amendment, the district court properly has jurisdiction. The Judge agreed that he had jurisdiction and heard arguments on the cross motions for summary judgment on March 1, 2004. On April 23, 2004, Judge Marquez found that the amended statute was unconstitutional and granted a permanent injunction. He ruled that the statute’s burden on free speech and on interstate commerce were excessive when compared to the actual, local benefits conferred by the statute. On July 22, the Judge signed a finding of facts and conclusion of law.