Athenaco, Ltd. v. Cox

335 F. Supp. 2d 773 (E.D. Mich. 2004)

On September 2, 2004, Chief Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan upheld Michigan’s law restricting the display of materials harmful to minors, but clarified that the law affects only publications that have harmful to minors material on their covers or spines, and that a retailer cannot be punished if a minor is found reading harmful materials in the store, as long as the retailer takes reasonable steps to prevent minors from doing so.

In 2003, Michigan passed an amendment to its harmful to minors statute that makes it illegal to allow a minor to view a work that contains harmful to minors content.

In January 2004, Media Coalition members and booksellers commenced a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, arguing that the new law would force retailers to segregate material harmful to minors in “adults only” sections or wrap it in plastic, limiting the First Amendment rights of adults to browse protected speech. Furthermore, the law could impose restrictions on books that are harmful only to the youngest minors, such as romance novels, works relating to sexual education and health, and classic literary texts.

Plaintiffs: Athenaco, Ltd. d/b/a Athena Book Shop; Books & More of Albion, LLC; Lowry’s Books, LLC; Rooney Family LLC d/b/a Nicola’s Books Little Professor; Schuler Books, Inc.; Shaman Drum Bookshop, Inc.; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expresson, Inc.; Association of American Publishers, Inc.; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Freedom to Read Foundation; Great Lakes Booksellers Association; and International Periodical Distributors Association, Inc.