American Civil Liberties Union v. Goddard

No. CIV 00-0505 TUC ACM (D. Ariz. July 22, 2004)

Previous case names:
American Civil Liberties Union v. Hull and American Civil Liberties Union v. Napolitano

In 2004, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona struck down a statute applying Arizona’s harmful to minors statute to the Internet.

On April 7, 2000, Arizona Governor Jane Hull signed H.B. 2428 into law [12], which applied Arizona’s “harmful to minors” statute to the Internet.

Media Coalition filed a complaint [11] on behalf of some of its members and other plaintiffs, arguing that the new Arizona law is unconstitutional. The case was filed on August 31, 2000 as American Civil Liberties Union v. Hull in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Prior to going trial, a new bill was introduced in the Arizona legislature that sought to amend the recently enacted H.B. 2428. The plaintiffs and the State of Arizona filed a joint motion to stay the proceedings [10] until the legislative session is over, in order to take into consideration the new amendments. The motion also agreed to a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of H.B. 2428.

In April and May 2001, Governor Hull signed two new bills [9], H.B. 2289 and H.B. 2223 that amended the previous Internet “harmful to minors” bill. The bills, however, enacted a different Internet provision, which Media Coalition argued was still unconstitutional.

On June 14, 2002, U.S. District Judge Alfredo Marquez ruled [6] that the new laws were unconstitutional and ordered permanent injunction.

The State of Arizona appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit. During the appeal, the Arizona legislature passed another amendment to the Internet statute: S.B. 1352 [5], which the recently-elected Governor Janet Napolitano signed into law on May 14, 2003.

Media Coalition submitted an amended complaint [4] in September 2003, arguing that S.B. 1352, like its predecessors, is unconstitutional. The case was remanded to the District Court.

On July 22, 2004, Judge Marquez issued his ruling [1] in the case (now called American Civil Liberties Union v. Goddard, after Attorney General Terry Goddard). In the opinion, Judge Marquez wrote that the Arizona law is an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech and infringes on the First Amendment rights of adults. The opinion cited several Media Coalition cases that successfully challenged similar Internet “harmful to minors” statutes in other states: PSINet v. Chapman, American Civil Liberties Union v. Johnson, American Library Association v. Pataki and Cyberspace Communications v. Engler.

American Civil Liberties Union, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Freedom to Read Foundation, Recording Industry Association of America, Video Software Dealers Association (now Entertainment Merchants Association), Magazine Publishers of America (now the Association of Magazine Media), National Association of Recording Merchandisers (now Music Business Association), Periodical and Book Association of America, Publishers Marketing Association (now the Independent Book Publishers Association), Art on the Net, AZGays.comChanging Hands Bookstore, Jeff WalshMark Amerika, Marty KleinPEN American Center, PSINet, Sexual Health Network, Web Del Sol and Wildcat Press.

Last updated: Oct 5, 2017