Colorado Senate Bill 125


Summary

Colorado Senate Bill 125 would create a “harmful to minors” law that would bar both dissemination to minors and display of material that is illegal for minors under the test in Ginsberg v. New York.

Colorado’s previous “harmful to minors” law was found to violate the First Amendment by the Colorado Supreme Court in 1985 in Tattered Cover v. Tooley. The Court held that the state cannot prevent adults from accessing “harmful to minors” material because minors might also occasionally access the material.

Analysis

Colorado S.B. 125 potentially violates the Colorado constitution. Furthermore, restricting adults’ ability to browse books that have themes that are inappropriate for younger minors would change the nature and atmosphere of bookstores and libraries. Booksellers and librarians are sensitive to creating an environment appropriate for patrons of all ages, including minors, but they also feel a strong responsibility to ensure adult are able to access the widest range of First Amendment-protected materials.

The bill would be unconstitutional if it applied the “harmful to minors” language to Internet communication. Several federal courts have struck down similar state laws attempting to restrict access to the Internet material “harmful to minors.”

Actions on bill

  • The bill [2] is introduced in January 2008.
  • Media Coalition submits a memo in opposition [1] to the members of the Colorado Senate, explaining the constitutional concerns with the bill.
  • In February 2008, the Senate Committee on Appropriations holds a hearing to consider the bill. Matt Miller, manager of Tattered Cover Bookstore, and Lisa Knudsen, the executive director of Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, testify in opposition to the bill.
  • In April 2008, the Senate Committee on Appropriations votes to postpone the bill indefinitely.