LITIGATION


Media Coalition has a remarkable rate of success filing legal challenges in state and federal courts to laws that violate the First Amendment. We also submit amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court and in lower courts in support of the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors.


Latest in litigation

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Garden District Book Shop v. Stewart

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana recently granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of a Louisiana law that requires websites located in the state that publishes harmful to minors material to make every visitor "acknowledge and attest" to being 18 years old or older before being allowed access to that material.

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Antigone Books v. Brnovich

The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered the state's prosecutors to permanently halt enforcement of the law that criminalizes the distribution of a nude photo without consent. Media Coalition brought the challenge on behalf of some of its members, media organizations and local booksellers in Arizona.

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Amicus brief in Pa. federal lawsuit

A U.S. District Court struck down a Pennsylvania law that allows victims to file a lawsuit to stop speech by a convicted offender if it causes them "mental anguish." Some Media Coalition members filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit, Prison Legal News v. Kane.


List of all cases and amicus briefs

List of all cases
Show all cases alphabetically

677 New Loudon v. State Tax Appeals Tribunal
19 N.Y.3d 1058 (N.Y. Ct. App. 2012), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 422 (2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari, concerning whether a state may discriminate in taxation among First Amendment-protected materials based on the perceived value of their content.

Alexander v. United States
509 U.S. 544 (1993)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that allowed the government to seize and destroy Ferris J. Alexander’s adult businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act when he was convicted of selling seven obscene magazines and videos.

American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick
244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001), rev’g 115 F. Supp. 2d 943 (S.D. Ind. 2000)
The 7th Circuit ruled that an Indianapolis ordinance adding “graphic violence” to the definition of “harmful to minors” is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

American Booksellers Association v. McAuliffe
533 F. Supp. 50 (N.D. Ga. 1981)
The U.S. District Court struck down Georgia’s law restricting the display of material with sexual content on its cover or in its contents as a violation of the First Amendment.

American Booksellers Association v. Rendell
481 A.2d 919 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the state’s display statute.

American Booksellers Association v. Schiff
868 F.2d 1199 (10th Cir. 1989), rev’g 649 F. Supp. 1009 (D.N.M. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ruled that New Mexico’s display statute is constitutional after limiting the statute’s definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County
129 Cal. App. 3d 197 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 1982)
The California 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that an ordinance requiring that “harmful to minors” materials be shrink-wrapped is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. Webb
919 F.2d 1493 (11th Cir. 1990), rev’g 643 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Ga. 1986)
The 11th Circuit found that the Georgia “harmful to minors” law is constitutional but narrowed the scope of the law to limits on display only if the material is harmful to the oldest minors.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley
Civil Action No. 10-11165-RWZ (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2010)
The U.S. District Court found that a Massachusetts law that criminalized any electronic distribution of “harmful to minors” material was likely unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean
342 F.3d 96 (2d Cir. 2003), aff’g in part, modifying in part 202 F. Supp. 2d 300 (D. Vt. 2002)
The 2nd Circuit ruled that Vermont’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
The 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s “harmful to minors” Internet statute after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms and is limited to “personally directed” communications. In the initial part of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court struck down a provision in the law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan
799 F. Supp. 2d 1078 (D. Alaska 2011)
The U.S. District Court struck down Alaska’s application of its “harmful to minors” law to electronically transmitted speech and the state’s “harmful to minors” law, declaring both an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of adults.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Goddard
No. CIV 00-0505 TUC ACM (D. Ariz. July 22, 2004)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Arizona’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Johnson
194 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. 1999), aff’g 4 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (D.N.M. 1998)
The 10th Circuit ruled that New Mexico’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey
534 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Gonzalez, 478 F. Supp. 2d 775 (E.D. Pa. 2007), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1137 (2009)
The U.S. Supreme ruled in 2004 that the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is overbroad and it was not the least restrictive means to prevent minors from accessing material harmful to minors. The Court remanded it to the U.S. District Court for fact-finding. The U.S. District Court struck down the law, which the 6th Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case for a third time, leaving in place the decision that the law is unconstitutional.

American Library Association v. Pataki
969 F. Supp. 160 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The U.S. District Court struck down New York’s “harmful to minors” on the Internet statute as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Antigone Books v. Brnovich
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona permanently ordered state prosecutors to halt enforcement of a law that criminalizes the distribution of a nude photo without the consent of the person depicted. The order approved a joint final settlement between the parties.

Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
535 U.S. 234 (2002), aff’g sub nom. Free Speech Coal. v. Reno, 198 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 1999)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 that expanded the definition of child pornography to images do not include an actual child, such as visual media involving adults portraying minors, computer-generated images, drawings and sculptures. The Court held that child pornography is limited to depictions of actual minors.

Athenaco v. Cox
335 F. Supp. 2d 773 (E.D. Mich. 2004)
The U.S. District Court upheld Michigan’s law restricting the display of materials harmful to minors but clarified that the law only applies publications that have “harmful to minors” material on their covers or spines.

Bay News v. Freda Roberts, Tax Collector of Mobile County, Alabama
Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, 1980
The Alabama Circuit Court struck down a Mobile County tax on magazines that depicted nudity.

Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors
565 F. Supp. 2d 981 (S.D. Ind. 2008)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Indiana law imposing a license fee on retailers carrying any sexually explicit material was an unconstitutional tax on such material, content-based restriction and license on the retailer.

Brockett v. Spokane Arcades
472 U.S. 491 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Washington’s use of the word “lust” in its definition of “prurient interest” goes beyond the three-pronged test in Miller/Ginsberg and is unconstitutional.

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media. The 9th Circuit had previously ruled that the law’s labeling requirement is unconstitutional compelled speech and a content-based requirement.

City News v. City of Waukesha
531 U.S. 278 (2001)
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case without reaching a decision on the merits, concerning whether municipalities must provide prompt judicial determination or simply the right to file promptly for judicial review in adult businesses licensing cases.

City of Littleton v. ZJ Gifts
541 U.S. 774 (2004)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Littleton, Colorado ordinance that does not provide a prompt judicial determination for adult licensing decisions.

City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books
535 U.S. 425 (2002)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Los Angeles could use its 1977 study as the basis for an ordinance that did not allow two adult facilities in the same building.

City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters
475 U.S. 41 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a city ordinance that prohibits adult motion picture theaters from being located within 1,000 feet from certain facilities, such as schools and churches.

Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans
827 F.2d 1483 (11th Cir. 1987), aff’g in part 642 F. Supp. 552 (M.D. Ala. 1986)
The 11th Circuit ruled that the threats made by the Montgomery, Alabama District Attorney intimidating wholesalers and retailers into withdrawing adult magazines was an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Cyberspace Communications v. Engler
142 F. Supp. 2d 827 (E.D. Mich. 2001), remanded, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000), aff’g 55 F. Supp. 2d 737 (E.D. Mich. 1999)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Michigan’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter
866 S.W.2d 520 (Tenn. 1993)
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state’s display provision was constitutional but only for material found to be “borderline obscenity,” and that the “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium v. FCC
518 U.S. 727 (1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could only impose “obscenity” and “harmful to minors” standards on cable television, instead of the “indecency” standard.

Entertainment Merchants Association v. Henry
No. CIV-06-675-C (W.D. Okla. Oct. 11, 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down an Oklahoma law that banned the sale of video games with “inappropriate violence” to minors by adding material containing “inappropriate violence” to the state’s “harmful to minors” law.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Illinois law banning the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors is unconstitutional. The court also struck down the law’s provision banning the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors, which the 7th Circuit upheld. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to violent content in the 7th Circuit.)

Entertainment Software Association v. Foti
451 F. Supp. 2d 823 (M.D. La. 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Louisiana law that added video games with violent content to the definition of “harmful to minors,” as well as video games with sexual content.

Entertainment Software Association v. Granholm
426 F. Supp. 2d 646 (E.D. Mich. 2006)
The U.S. District Court ruled that a Michigan law that added video games with “ultra-violent explicit” content to the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson
519 F.3d 768 (8th Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Entm’t Software Ass’n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D. Minn. 2006)
The 8th Circuit struck down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale of rental of games rated “M” or “AO” for any content, including violence, to anyone under 17 and imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

Florence v. Shurtleff
Civil No. 2: 05CV000485 (D. Utah May 15, 2012)
The State of Utah agreed to a stipulated order that limited the scope of the state’s Internet “harmful to minors” law so that it does not apply to the posting of “harmful to minors” content on generally accessible websites.

Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana
489 U.S. 46 (1989)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government may not use RICO laws to make a wholesale pre-trial seizure of books or magazines.

FW/PBS v. Dallas
493 U.S. 215 (1990)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a licensing provision for adult businesses in Dallas because it failed to provide the businesses with proper procedural protection.

Garden District Book Shop v. Stewart
(2015 – ongoing)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction, blocking enforcement of a law that required websites to age-verify every internet user before providing access to material that could be deemed “harmful to minors.”

General Media Communications v. Cohen
131 F.3d 273 (2d Cir. 1997), vacating sub nom. Gen. Media Commc’ns v. Perry, 952 F. Supp. 1072 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Military Honor and Decency Act, a law that banned the sale or rental, at a military facility, of any material that “depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way” is constitutional.

Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County
329 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2003), rev’g 200 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (E.D. Mo. 2002)
The 8th Circuit ruled unconstitutional a St. Louis County ordinance that made it a crime to knowingly sell, rent, make available, or permit the “free play of” video games with violent content to or by minors without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Jenkins v. Georgia
418 U.S. 153 (1974)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a local jury was wrong in declaring the movie “Carnal Knowledge” obscene.

Leech v. American Booksellers Association
582 S.W.2d 738 (Tenn. 1979)
The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the state’s obscenity and display law is unconstitutional.

Lo-Ji Sales v. New York
442 U.S. 319 (1979)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a generalized search and seizure of magazines and movies from the petitioner’s store without a particularized search warrant is unconstitutional.

Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television
132 P.3d 211 (Cal. 2006), aff’g in part 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 511 (Ct. App. 2004)
The California Supreme Court dismissed claims of sexual harassment against Warner Brothers. Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief highlighting the potential negative impact of a “creative necessity” test announced by the California Court of Appeals.

Maryland v. Macon
472 U.S. 463 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a detective entering an adult store, purchasing magazines, and then arresting the clerk for selling obscene material did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

New York v. Ferber
458 U.S. 747 (1982)
The U.S. Supreme Court established that actual images of minors engaged in sex or lascivious nudity is a class of speech exempt from First Amendment protection.

Newton v. Slye
116 F. Supp. 2d 677 (W.D. Va. 2000)
The U.S. District Court denied an injunction against restrictions on posting Banned Books Week material in a high school.

Penthouse v. McAuliffe
610 F.2d 1353 (5th Cir. 1980)
The 5th Circuit ruled that harassment and arrests of retailers prior to a final adjudication on obscenity is an unconstitutional prior restraint.

People v. Wiener
35 Cal. Rptr. 2d 321 (Ct. App. 1994)
The California 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s privacy laws do not protect against prosecution for the distribution of obscene material.

Playboy v. Meese
639 F. Supp. 581 (D.C. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ordered the Meese Commission to withdraw its letter to corporations threatening to list them as distributors of pornography and barred any such list of retailers from being issued.

PMG International v. Rumsfeld
303 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2002), aff’g sub nom. PMG Int’l v. Cohen, 57 F. Supp. 2d 916 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
The 9th Circuit Court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit arguing that the Military Honor and Decency Act is unconstitutional.

Pope v. Illinois
481 U.S. 497 (1987)
The U.S. Supreme Court clarified the “value” prong of the Miller test by ruling that the literary, artistic, political or scientific value of an allegedly obscene work must be weighed by a standard broader than that of any particular community. The new standard is that of a “reasonable person.”

Powell’s Books v. Kroger
622 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2010), rev’g sub nom. Powell’s Books v. Myers, 599 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Or. 2008)
The 9th Circuit struck down the Oregon statute barring the dissemination of sexual material to minors that does not follow the test in Miller/Ginsberg.

Prison Legal News v. Kane
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down a Pennsylvania law that allowed victims to stop conduct — including speech — by a convicted offender if it causes “mental anguish.”

PSINet v. Chapman
362 F.3d 227 (4th Cir. 2004), aff’g 167 F. Supp. 2d 878 (W.D. Va. 2001)
The 4th Circuit found that a Virginia law amending the state’s existing “harmful to juveniles” law to impose restrictions on Internet content was invalid under both the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union
521 U.S. 844 (1997), aff’g 929 F. Supp. 824 (E.D. Pa. 1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that respectively sought to criminalize the “knowing” transmission to minors of messages that are “obscene or indecent” and “patently offensive.”

Shipley v. Long
454 F. Supp. 2d 819 (E.D. Ark. 2004)
The U.S. District court struck down a provision in an Arkansas law that required retailers to segregate and use blinders for materials “harmful to minors.”

Southeast Booksellers Association v. McMaster
371 F. Supp. 2d 773 (D.S.C. 2005)
The U.S. District Court struck down a South Carolina law applying the state’s existing “harmful to minors” statute to the Internet.

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus
134 S. Ct. 2334 (2014), rev’g No. 11-3894/11-3925 (6th Cir. May 13, 2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court held  that “a credible threat of enforcement” is a sufficient threat of injury to establish standing in a First Amendment case when bringing a “pre-enforcement” challenge. The Court cited the standard in the Media Coalition case Virginia v. American Booksellers Association of “a reasonable threat of prosecution” as an acceptable formulation of the “credible threat” standard.

Tattered Cover v. Brohl
No. 13-cv-01431 (D. Colo. June 11, 2013)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Colorado law restricting the display of magazines whose focus is marijuana or the marijuana business.

Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton
44 P.3d 1044 (Colo. 2002)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant seeking information about a book purchased by a Tattered Cover customer violated both the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution.

Tattered Cover v. Tooley
696 P.2d 780 (Colo. 1985)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s “harmful to minors law” is unconstitutional.

United States v. Alvarez
132 S. Ct. 2537 (2012)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime for any person to falsely represent that he or she had been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces.

United States v. Knox
32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), aff’g 776 F. Supp. 174 (M.D. Pa. 1991)
The 3rd Circuit ruled that non-nude depictions of minors can be prosecuted as child pornography.

United States v. PHE
965 F.2d 848 (10th Cir. 1992)
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Justice Department’s use of multi-jurisdictional prosecutions against Adam and Eve, a mail order business for sexually explicit materials, to force the company out of business was malicious.

United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group
529 U.S. 803 (2000)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the section of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that required cable operators with channels with mostly sexually explicit programming to fully block audio or visual signals at a time when children may be watching is unconstitutional.

United States v. Stevens
559 U.S. 460 (2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 federal law that criminalized the creation, sale or possession of images of images of animal cruelty if the act depicted in the image is illegal either where the image was captured or where it was possessed or distributed.

United States v. Williams
553 U.S. 285 (2008)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the pandering provision in the PROTECT Act.

Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis
780 F.2d 1389 (8th Cir. 1985), aff’g 602 F. Supp. 1361 (D. Minn. 1985)
The 8th Circuit ruled that a “harmful to minors” access statute is a permissible “time, place and manner” restriction on speech.

Vance v. Universal Amusement
445 U.S. 308 (1980)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Texas public nuisance statute permitting prior restraint of allegedly obscene motion pictures without prompt judicial review is unconstitutional.

Video Software Dealers Association v. City of Oklahoma
6 F. Supp. 2d 1292 (W.D. Okla. 1997)
The U.S. District Court ruled that the film “Tin Drum” is not child pornography and that its seizure by the Oklahoma City police was an unlawful prior restraint.

Video Software Dealers Association v. Maleng
325 F. Supp. 2d 1180 (W.D. Wash. 2004)
The U.S. District Court struck down a law that prohibited the rental or sale to anyone under 17 of computer and video games containing depictions of violence against law enforcement officers.

Village Books v. City of Bellingham
No. C88-1470D (W.D. Wash. Feb. 9, 1989)
The U.S. District Court struck down the City of Bellingham’s ordinance that provided a cause of action to allow individuals to sue publishers and retailers for producing material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Yahoo! v. Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme
433 F.3d 1199 (9th Cir. 2006), rev’g en banc 145 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
A French court held U.S.-based Yahoo!, Inc. liable under a broad French anti-hate law for content carried on its auction site in the United States, because the site is accessible to French citizens.

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Show all cases chronologically
2010 to present

Garden District Book Shop v. Stewart
(2015 – ongoing)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction, blocking enforcement of a law that required websites to age-verify every internet user before providing access to material that could be deemed “harmful to minors.”

Prison Legal News v. Kane
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down a Pennsylvania law that allowed victims to stop conduct — including speech — by a convicted offender if it causes “mental anguish.”

Antigone Books v. Brnovich
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona permanently ordered state prosecutors to halt enforcement of a law that criminalizes the distribution of a nude photo without the consent of the person depicted. The order approved a joint final settlement between the parties.

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus
134 S. Ct. 2334 (2014), rev’g No. 11-3894/11-3925 (6th Cir. May 13, 2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court held  that “a credible threat of enforcement” is a sufficient threat of injury to establish standing in a First Amendment case when bringing a “pre-enforcement” challenge. The Court cited the standard in the Media Coalition case Virginia v. American Booksellers Association of “a reasonable threat of prosecution” as an acceptable formulation of the “credible threat” standard.

677 New Loudon v. State Tax Appeals Tribunal
19 N.Y.3d 1058 (N.Y. Ct. App. 2012), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 422 (2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari, concerning whether a state may discriminate in taxation among First Amendment-protected materials based on the perceived value of their content.

Tattered Cover v. Brohl
No. 13-cv-01431 (D. Colo. June 11, 2013)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Colorado law restricting the display of magazines whose focus is marijuana or the marijuana business.

United States v. Alvarez
132 S. Ct. 2537 (2012)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime for any person to falsely represent that he or she had been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces.

Florence v. Shurtleff
Civil No. 2: 05CV000485 (D. Utah May 15, 2012)
The State of Utah agreed to a stipulated order that limited the scope of the state’s Internet “harmful to minors” law so that it does not apply to the posting of “harmful to minors” content on generally accessible websites.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan
799 F. Supp. 2d 1078 (D. Alaska 2011)
The U.S. District Court struck down Alaska’s application of its “harmful to minors” law to electronically transmitted speech and the state’s “harmful to minors” law, declaring both an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of adults.

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media. The 9th Circuit had previously ruled that the law’s labeling requirement is unconstitutional compelled speech and a content-based requirement.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley
Civil Action No. 10-11165-RWZ (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2010)
The U.S. District Court found that a Massachusetts law that criminalized any electronic distribution of “harmful to minors” material was likely unconstitutional.

Powell’s Books v. Kroger
622 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2010), rev’g sub nom. Powell’s Books v. Myers, 599 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Or. 2008)
The 9th Circuit struck down the Oregon statute barring the dissemination of sexual material to minors that does not follow the test in Miller/Ginsberg.

United States v. Stevens
559 U.S. 460 (2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 federal law that criminalized the creation, sale or possession of images of images of animal cruelty if the act depicted in the image is illegal either where the image was captured or where it was possessed or distributed.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
The 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s “harmful to minors” Internet statute after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms and is limited to “personally directed” communications. In the initial part of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court struck down a provision in the law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.”

2000 to 2009

American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey
534 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Gonzalez, 478 F. Supp. 2d 775 (E.D. Pa. 2007), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1137 (2009)
The U.S. Supreme ruled in 2004 that the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is overbroad and it was not the least restrictive means to prevent minors from accessing material harmful to minors. The Court remanded it to the U.S. District Court for fact-finding. The U.S. District Court struck down the law, which the 6th Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case for a third time, leaving in place the decision that the law is unconstitutional.

Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors
565 F. Supp. 2d 981 (S.D. Ind. 2008)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Indiana law imposing a license fee on retailers carrying any sexually explicit material was an unconstitutional tax on such material, content-based restriction and license on the retailer.

United States v. Williams
553 U.S. 285 (2008)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the pandering provision in the PROTECT Act.

Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson
519 F.3d 768 (8th Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Entm’t Software Ass’n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D. Minn. 2006)
The 8th Circuit struck down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale of rental of games rated “M” or “AO” for any content, including violence, to anyone under 17 and imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

Entertainment Merchants Association v. Henry
No. CIV-06-675-C (W.D. Okla. Oct. 11, 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down an Oklahoma law that banned the sale of video games with “inappropriate violence” to minors by adding material containing “inappropriate violence” to the state’s “harmful to minors” law.

Entertainment Software Association v. Foti
451 F. Supp. 2d 823 (M.D. La. 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Louisiana law that added video games with violent content to the definition of “harmful to minors,” as well as video games with sexual content.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Illinois law banning the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors is unconstitutional. The court also struck down the law’s provision banning the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors, which the 7th Circuit upheld. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to violent content in the 7th Circuit.)

Yahoo! v. Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme
433 F.3d 1199 (9th Cir. 2006), rev’g en banc 145 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
A French court held U.S.-based Yahoo!, Inc. liable under a broad French anti-hate law for content carried on its auction site in the United States, because the site is accessible to French citizens.

Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television
132 P.3d 211 (Cal. 2006), aff’g in part 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 511 (Ct. App. 2004)
The California Supreme Court dismissed claims of sexual harassment against Warner Brothers. Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief highlighting the potential negative impact of a “creative necessity” test announced by the California Court of Appeals.

Entertainment Software Association v. Granholm
426 F. Supp. 2d 646 (E.D. Mich. 2006)
The U.S. District Court ruled that a Michigan law that added video games with “ultra-violent explicit” content to the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Southeast Booksellers Association v. McMaster
371 F. Supp. 2d 773 (D.S.C. 2005)
The U.S. District Court struck down a South Carolina law applying the state’s existing “harmful to minors” statute to the Internet.

Shipley v. Long
454 F. Supp. 2d 819 (E.D. Ark. 2004)
The U.S. District court struck down a provision in an Arkansas law that required retailers to segregate and use blinders for materials “harmful to minors.”

Athenaco v. Cox
335 F. Supp. 2d 773 (E.D. Mich. 2004)
The U.S. District Court upheld Michigan’s law restricting the display of materials harmful to minors but clarified that the law only applies publications that have “harmful to minors” material on their covers or spines.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Goddard
No. CIV 00-0505 TUC ACM (D. Ariz. July 22, 2004)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Arizona’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

Video Software Dealers Association v. Maleng
325 F. Supp. 2d 1180 (W.D. Wash. 2004)
The U.S. District Court struck down a law that prohibited the rental or sale to anyone under 17 of computer and video games containing depictions of violence against law enforcement officers.

PSINet v. Chapman
362 F.3d 227 (4th Cir. 2004), aff’g 167 F. Supp. 2d 878 (W.D. Va. 2001)
The 4th Circuit found that a Virginia law amending the state’s existing “harmful to juveniles” law to impose restrictions on Internet content was invalid under both the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

City of Littleton v. ZJ Gifts
541 U.S. 774 (2004)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Littleton, Colorado ordinance that does not provide a prompt judicial determination for adult licensing decisions.

Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County
329 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2003), rev’g 200 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (E.D. Mo. 2002)
The 8th Circuit ruled unconstitutional a St. Louis County ordinance that made it a crime to knowingly sell, rent, make available, or permit the “free play of” video games with violent content to or by minors without the consent of a parent or guardian.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean
342 F.3d 96 (2d Cir. 2003), aff’g in part, modifying in part 202 F. Supp. 2d 300 (D. Vt. 2002)
The 2nd Circuit ruled that Vermont’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

PMG International v. Rumsfeld
303 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2002), aff’g sub nom. PMG Int’l v. Cohen, 57 F. Supp. 2d 916 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
The 9th Circuit Court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit arguing that the Military Honor and Decency Act is unconstitutional.

City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books
535 U.S. 425 (2002)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Los Angeles could use its 1977 study as the basis for an ordinance that did not allow two adult facilities in the same building.

Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
535 U.S. 234 (2002), aff’g sub nom. Free Speech Coal. v. Reno, 198 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 1999)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 that expanded the definition of child pornography to images do not include an actual child, such as visual media involving adults portraying minors, computer-generated images, drawings and sculptures. The Court held that child pornography is limited to depictions of actual minors.

Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton
44 P.3d 1044 (Colo. 2002)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant seeking information about a book purchased by a Tattered Cover customer violated both the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution.

American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick
244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001), rev’g 115 F. Supp. 2d 943 (S.D. Ind. 2000)
The 7th Circuit ruled that an Indianapolis ordinance adding “graphic violence” to the definition of “harmful to minors” is unconstitutional.

City News v. City of Waukesha
531 U.S. 278 (2001)
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case without reaching a decision on the merits, concerning whether municipalities must provide prompt judicial determination or simply the right to file promptly for judicial review in adult businesses licensing cases.

Cyberspace Communications v. Engler
142 F. Supp. 2d 827 (E.D. Mich. 2001), remanded, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000), aff’g 55 F. Supp. 2d 737 (E.D. Mich. 1999)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Michigan’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment.

United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group
529 U.S. 803 (2000)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the section of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that required cable operators with channels with mostly sexually explicit programming to fully block audio or visual signals at a time when children may be watching is unconstitutional.

Newton v. Slye
116 F. Supp. 2d 677 (W.D. Va. 2000)
The U.S. District Court denied an injunction against restrictions on posting Banned Books Week material in a high school.

1990 to 1999

American Civil Liberties Union v. Johnson
194 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. 1999), aff’g 4 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (D.N.M. 1998)
The 10th Circuit ruled that New Mexico’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

General Media Communications v. Cohen
131 F.3d 273 (2d Cir. 1997), vacating sub nom. Gen. Media Commc’ns v. Perry, 952 F. Supp. 1072 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Military Honor and Decency Act, a law that banned the sale or rental, at a military facility, of any material that “depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way” is constitutional.

Video Software Dealers Association v. City of Oklahoma
6 F. Supp. 2d 1292 (W.D. Okla. 1997)
The U.S. District Court ruled that the film “Tin Drum” is not child pornography and that its seizure by the Oklahoma City police was an unlawful prior restraint.

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union
521 U.S. 844 (1997), aff’g 929 F. Supp. 824 (E.D. Pa. 1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that respectively sought to criminalize the “knowing” transmission to minors of messages that are “obscene or indecent” and “patently offensive.”

American Library Association v. Pataki
969 F. Supp. 160 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The U.S. District Court struck down New York’s “harmful to minors” on the Internet statute as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium v. FCC
518 U.S. 727 (1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could only impose “obscenity” and “harmful to minors” standards on cable television, instead of the “indecency” standard.

People v. Wiener
35 Cal. Rptr. 2d 321 (Ct. App. 1994)
The California 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s privacy laws do not protect against prosecution for the distribution of obscene material.

United States v. Knox
32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), aff’g 776 F. Supp. 174 (M.D. Pa. 1991)
The 3rd Circuit ruled that non-nude depictions of minors can be prosecuted as child pornography.

Alexander v. United States
509 U.S. 544 (1993)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that allowed the government to seize and destroy Ferris J. Alexander’s adult businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act when he was convicted of selling seven obscene magazines and videos.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter
866 S.W.2d 520 (Tenn. 1993)
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state’s display provision was constitutional but only for material found to be “borderline obscenity,” and that the “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

United States v. PHE
965 F.2d 848 (10th Cir. 1992)
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Justice Department’s use of multi-jurisdictional prosecutions against Adam and Eve, a mail order business for sexually explicit materials, to force the company out of business was malicious.

American Booksellers Association v. Webb
919 F.2d 1493 (11th Cir. 1990), rev’g 643 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Ga. 1986)
The 11th Circuit found that the Georgia “harmful to minors” law is constitutional but narrowed the scope of the law to limits on display only if the material is harmful to the oldest minors.

FW/PBS v. Dallas
493 U.S. 215 (1990)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a licensing provision for adult businesses in Dallas because it failed to provide the businesses with proper procedural protection.

before 1990

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

American Booksellers Association v. Schiff
868 F.2d 1199 (10th Cir. 1989), rev’g 649 F. Supp. 1009 (D.N.M. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ruled that New Mexico’s display statute is constitutional after limiting the statute’s definition of “harmful to minors.”

Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana
489 U.S. 46 (1989)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government may not use RICO laws to make a wholesale pre-trial seizure of books or magazines.

Village Books v. City of Bellingham
No. C88-1470D (W.D. Wash. Feb. 9, 1989)
The U.S. District Court struck down the City of Bellingham’s ordinance that provided a cause of action to allow individuals to sue publishers and retailers for producing material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans
827 F.2d 1483 (11th Cir. 1987), aff’g in part 642 F. Supp. 552 (M.D. Ala. 1986)
The 11th Circuit ruled that the threats made by the Montgomery, Alabama District Attorney intimidating wholesalers and retailers into withdrawing adult magazines was an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Pope v. Illinois
481 U.S. 497 (1987)
The U.S. Supreme Court clarified the “value” prong of the Miller test by ruling that the literary, artistic, political or scientific value of an allegedly obscene work must be weighed by a standard broader than that of any particular community. The new standard is that of a “reasonable person.”

Playboy v. Meese
639 F. Supp. 581 (D.C. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ordered the Meese Commission to withdraw its letter to corporations threatening to list them as distributors of pornography and barred any such list of retailers from being issued.

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis
780 F.2d 1389 (8th Cir. 1985), aff’g 602 F. Supp. 1361 (D. Minn. 1985)
The 8th Circuit ruled that a “harmful to minors” access statute is a permissible “time, place and manner” restriction on speech.

City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters
475 U.S. 41 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a city ordinance that prohibits adult motion picture theaters from being located within 1,000 feet from certain facilities, such as schools and churches.

Brockett v. Spokane Arcades
472 U.S. 491 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Washington’s use of the word “lust” in its definition of “prurient interest” goes beyond the three-pronged test in Miller/Ginsberg and is unconstitutional.

Maryland v. Macon
472 U.S. 463 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a detective entering an adult store, purchasing magazines, and then arresting the clerk for selling obscene material did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

Tattered Cover v. Tooley
696 P.2d 780 (Colo. 1985)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s “harmful to minors law” is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. Rendell
481 A.2d 919 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the state’s display statute.

New York v. Ferber
458 U.S. 747 (1982)
The U.S. Supreme Court established that actual images of minors engaged in sex or lascivious nudity is a class of speech exempt from First Amendment protection.

American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County
129 Cal. App. 3d 197 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 1982)
The California 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that an ordinance requiring that “harmful to minors” materials be shrink-wrapped is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. McAuliffe
533 F. Supp. 50 (N.D. Ga. 1981)
The U.S. District Court struck down Georgia’s law restricting the display of material with sexual content on its cover or in its contents as a violation of the First Amendment.

Vance v. Universal Amusement
445 U.S. 308 (1980)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Texas public nuisance statute permitting prior restraint of allegedly obscene motion pictures without prompt judicial review is unconstitutional.

Penthouse v. McAuliffe
610 F.2d 1353 (5th Cir. 1980)
The 5th Circuit ruled that harassment and arrests of retailers prior to a final adjudication on obscenity is an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Bay News v. Freda Roberts, Tax Collector of Mobile County, Alabama
Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, 1980
The Alabama Circuit Court struck down a Mobile County tax on magazines that depicted nudity.

Lo-Ji Sales v. New York
442 U.S. 319 (1979)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a generalized search and seizure of magazines and movies from the petitioner’s store without a particularized search warrant is unconstitutional.

Leech v. American Booksellers Association
582 S.W.2d 738 (Tenn. 1979)
The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the state’s obscenity and display law is unconstitutional.

Jenkins v. Georgia
418 U.S. 153 (1974)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a local jury was wrong in declaring the movie “Carnal Knowledge” obscene.

Sort cases by category
Display/Minors' Access

The following cases are challenges to laws that restricted how booksellers, libraries, and home video and video game retailers display certain materials. These laws violate the First Amendment rights of adults and older minors to access speech.


American Booksellers Association v. McAuliffe
533 F. Supp. 50 (N.D. Ga. 1981)
The U.S. District Court struck down Georgia’s law restricting the display of material with sexual content on its cover or in its contents as a violation of the First Amendment.

American Booksellers Association v. Rendell
481 A.2d 919 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the state’s display statute.

American Booksellers Association v. Schiff
868 F.2d 1199 (10th Cir. 1989), rev’g 649 F. Supp. 1009 (D.N.M. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ruled that New Mexico’s display statute is constitutional after limiting the statute’s definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County
129 Cal. App. 3d 197 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 1982)
The California 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that an ordinance requiring that “harmful to minors” materials be shrink-wrapped is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. Webb
919 F.2d 1493 (11th Cir. 1990), rev’g 643 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Ga. 1986)
The 11th Circuit found that the Georgia “harmful to minors” law is constitutional but narrowed the scope of the law to limits on display only if the material is harmful to the oldest minors.

Athenaco v. Cox
335 F. Supp. 2d 773 (E.D. Mich. 2004)
The U.S. District Court upheld Michigan’s law restricting the display of materials harmful to minors but clarified that the law only applies publications that have “harmful to minors” material on their covers or spines.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter
866 S.W.2d 520 (Tenn. 1993)
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state’s display provision was constitutional but only for material found to be “borderline obscenity,” and that the “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Leech v. American Booksellers Association
582 S.W.2d 738 (Tenn. 1979)
The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the state’s obscenity and display law is unconstitutional.

Shipley v. Long
454 F. Supp. 2d 819 (E.D. Ark. 2004)
The U.S. District court struck down a provision in an Arkansas law that required retailers to segregate and use blinders for materials “harmful to minors.”

Tattered Cover v. Brohl
No. 13-cv-01431 (D. Colo. June 11, 2013)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Colorado law restricting the display of magazines whose focus is marijuana or the marijuana business.

Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis
780 F.2d 1389 (8th Cir. 1985), aff’g 602 F. Supp. 1361 (D. Minn. 1985)
The 8th Circuit ruled that a “harmful to minors” access statute is a permissible “time, place and manner” restriction on speech.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Harmful to minors

The following cases are challenges to laws that restrict sexual material beyond what the Supreme Court has allowed to be regulated as “harmful to minors.” “Harmful to minors” material is determined by a three-pronged test the Supreme Court set in Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968), and modified in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).


American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley
Civil Action No. 10-11165-RWZ (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2010)
The U.S. District Court found that a Massachusetts law that criminalized any electronic distribution of “harmful to minors” material was likely unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean
342 F.3d 96 (2d Cir. 2003), aff’g in part, modifying in part 202 F. Supp. 2d 300 (D. Vt. 2002)
The 2nd Circuit ruled that Vermont’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
The 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s “harmful to minors” Internet statute after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms and is limited to “personally directed” communications. In the initial part of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court struck down a provision in the law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan
799 F. Supp. 2d 1078 (D. Alaska 2011)
The U.S. District Court struck down Alaska’s application of its “harmful to minors” law to electronically transmitted speech and the state’s “harmful to minors” law, declaring both an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of adults.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Goddard
No. CIV 00-0505 TUC ACM (D. Ariz. July 22, 2004)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Arizona’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Johnson
194 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. 1999), aff’g 4 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (D.N.M. 1998)
The 10th Circuit ruled that New Mexico’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey
534 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Gonzalez, 478 F. Supp. 2d 775 (E.D. Pa. 2007), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1137 (2009)
The U.S. Supreme ruled in 2004 that the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is overbroad and it was not the least restrictive means to prevent minors from accessing material harmful to minors. The Court remanded it to the U.S. District Court for fact-finding. The U.S. District Court struck down the law, which the 6th Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case for a third time, leaving in place the decision that the law is unconstitutional.

American Library Association v. Pataki
969 F. Supp. 160 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The U.S. District Court struck down New York’s “harmful to minors” on the Internet statute as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors
565 F. Supp. 2d 981 (S.D. Ind. 2008)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Indiana law imposing a license fee on retailers carrying any sexually explicit material was an unconstitutional tax on such material, content-based restriction and license on the retailer.

Cyberspace Communications v. Engler
142 F. Supp. 2d 827 (E.D. Mich. 2001), remanded, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000), aff’g 55 F. Supp. 2d 737 (E.D. Mich. 1999)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Michigan’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter
866 S.W.2d 520 (Tenn. 1993)
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state’s “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional, and the display provision was constitutional but only for material found to be “borderline obscenity.”

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The 7th Circuit upheld a U.S. District Court decision striking down an Illinois law that banned the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors beyond what may be restricted by the Supreme Court. The District Court had previously ruled a provision in the law that banned the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors unconstitutional, which the state did not appeal in the 7th Circuit.

Florence v. Shurtleff
Civil No. 2: 05CV000485 (D. Utah May 15, 2012)
The State of Utah agreed to a stipulated order that limited the scope of the state’s Internet “harmful to minors” law so that it does not apply to the posting of “harmful to minors” content on generally accessible websites.

Garden District Book Shop v. Stewart
(2015 – ongoing)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction, blocking enforcement of a law that required websites to age-verify every internet user before providing access to material that could be deemed “harmful to minors.”

Powell’s Books v. Kroger
622 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2010), rev’g sub nom. Powell’s Books v. Myers, 599 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Or. 2008)
The 9th Circuit struck down the Oregon statute barring the dissemination of sexual material to minors that does not follow the test in Miller/Ginsberg.

PSINet v. Chapman
362 F.3d 227 (4th Cir. 2004), aff’g 167 F. Supp. 2d 878 (W.D. Va. 2001)
The 4th Circuit found that a Virginia law amending the state’s existing “harmful to juveniles” law to impose restrictions on Internet content was invalid under both the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union
521 U.S. 844 (1997), aff’g 929 F. Supp. 824 (E.D. Pa. 1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that respectively sought to criminalize the “knowing” transmission to minors of messages that are “obscene or indecent” and “patently offensive.”

Southeast Booksellers Association v. McMaster
371 F. Supp. 2d 773 (D.S.C. 2005)
The U.S. District Court struck down a South Carolina law applying the state’s existing “harmful to minors” statute to the Internet.

Tattered Cover v. Tooley
696 P.2d 780 (Colo. 1985)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s “harmful to minors law” is unconstitutional.

United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group
529 U.S. 803 (2000)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the section of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that requires cable operators with channels with mostly sexually explicit programming to fully block audio or visual signals at a time when children may be watching is unconstitutional.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Obscenity

The following cases are challenges involving the restriction of material beyond what the Supreme Court has deemed “obscene” and outside First-Amendment protection. “Obscene” material is determined by a three-pronged test the Supreme Court set in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).


Alexander v. United States
509 U.S. 544 (1993)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that allowed the government to seize and destroy Ferris J. Alexander’s adult businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act when he was convicted of selling seven obscene magazines and videos.

Brockett v. Spokane Arcades
472 U.S. 491 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Washington’s use of the word “lust” in its definition of “prurient interest” goes beyond the three-pronged test in Miller/Ginsberg and is unconstitutional.

Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium v. FCC
518 U.S. 727 (1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could only impose “obscenity” and “harmful to minors” standards on cable television, instead of the “indecency” standard.

Jenkins v. Georgia
418 U.S. 153 (1974)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a local jury was wrong in declaring the movie “Carnal Knowledge” obscene.

Leech v. American Booksellers Association
582 S.W.2d 738 (Tenn. 1979)
The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the state’s obscenity law is unconstitutional.

Maryland v. Macon
472 U.S. 463 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a detective entering an adult store, purchasing magazines, and then arresting the clerk for selling obscene material did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

People v. Wiener
35 Cal. Rptr. 2d 321 (Ct. App. 1994)
The California 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s privacy laws do not protect against prosecution for the distribution of obscene material.

Pope v. Illinois
481 U.S. 497 (1987)
The U.S. Supreme Court clarified the “value” prong of the Miller test by ruling that the literary, artistic, political or scientific value of an allegedly obscene work must be weighed by a standard broader than that of any particular community. The new standard is that of a “reasonable person.”

Other Content Restrictions

The following cases are challenges to restrictions on speech other than materials with sexual or violent content. (See “Harmful to Minors” and “Obscenity” for restrictions on sexual content and “Violent Content” for restrictions on violent content.)


Antigone Books v. Brnovich
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona permanently ordered state prosecutors to halt enforcement of a law that criminalizes the distribution of a nude photo without the consent of the person depicted. The order approved a joint final settlement between the parties.

Prison Legal News v. Kane
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down a Pennsylvania law that allowed victims to stop conduct — including speech — by a convicted offender if it causes “mental anguish.”

Tattered Cover v. Brohl
No. 13-cv-01431 (D. Colo. June 11, 2013)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Colorado law restricting the display of magazines whose focus is marijuana or the marijuana business.

United States v. Alvarez
132 S. Ct. 2537 (2012)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime for any person to falsely represent that he or she had been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces.

United States v. Stevens
559 U.S. 460 (2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 federal law that criminalized the creation, sale or possession of images of images of animal cruelty if the act depicted in the image is illegal either where the image was captured or where it was possessed or distributed.

Ratings Enforcement/Labeling

The following cases are challenges to laws that seek to enforce voluntary ratings by industry boards.


Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media. The 9th Circuit had previously ruled that the law’s labeling requirement is unconstitutional compelled speech and a content-based requirement.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Illinois law banning the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors is unconstitutional. The court also struck down the law’s provision banning the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors, which the 7th Circuit upheld. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to violent content in the 7th Circuit.)

Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson
519 F.3d 768 (8th Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Entm’t Software Ass’n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D. Minn. 2006)
The 8th Circuit struck down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale of rental of games rated “M” or “AO” for any content, including violence, to anyone under 17 and imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

Seizure/Prior Restraint

The following cases are challenges to the seizure of materials or restrictions on distribution of materials prior to a court decision that the material should be seized or restrained.

Alexander v. United States
509 U.S. 544 (1993)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that allowed the government to seize and destroy Ferris J. Alexander’s adult businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act when he was convicted of selling seven obscene magazines and videos.

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans
827 F.2d 1483 (11th Cir. 1987), aff’g in part 642 F. Supp. 552 (M.D. Ala. 1986)
The 11th Circuit ruled that the threats made by the Montgomery, Alabama District Attorney intimidating wholesalers and retailers into withdrawing adult magazines was an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana
489 U.S. 46 (1989)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government may not use RICO laws to make a wholesale pre-trial seizure of books or magazines.

Lo-Ji Sales v. New York
442 U.S. 319 (1979)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a generalized search and seizure of magazines and movies from the petitioner’s store without a particularized search warrant is unconstitutional.

Maryland v. Macon
472 U.S. 463 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a detective entering an adult store, purchasing magazines, and then arresting the clerk for selling obscene material did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

Penthouse v. McAuliffe
610 F.2d 1353 (5th Cir. 1980)
The 5th Circuit ruled that harassment and arrests of retailers prior to a final adjudication on obscenity is an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Playboy v. Meese
639 F. Supp. 581 (D.C. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ordered the Meese Commission to withdraw its letter to corporations threatening to list them as distributors of pornography and barred any such list of retailers from being issued.

Prison Legal News v. Kane
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down a Pennsylvania law that allowed victims to stop conduct — including speech — by a convicted offender if it causes “mental anguish.”

United States v. PHE
965 F.2d 848 (10th Cir. 1992)
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Justice Department’s use of multi-jurisdictional prosecutions against Adam and Eve, a mail order business for sexually explicit materials, to force the company out of business was malicious.

Vance v. Universal Amusement
445 U.S. 308 (1980)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Texas public nuisance statute permitting prior restraint of allegedly obscene motion pictures without prompt judicial review is unconstitutional.

Video Software Dealers Association v. City of Oklahoma
6 F. Supp. 2d 1292 (W.D. Okla. 1997)
The U.S. District Court ruled that the film “Tin Drum” is not child pornography and that its seizure by the Oklahoma City police was an unlawful prior restraint.

Sexually Explicit Content and Minors

The following cases are challenges that involve broadening the definition of child pornography material that does not include actual children, such as drawings, sculptures, visual media involving adults portraying minors and computer-generated images.


Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
535 U.S. 234 (2002), aff’g sub nom. Free Speech Coal. v. Reno, 198 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 1999)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 that expanded the definition of child pornography to images do not include an actual child, such as visual media involving adults portraying minors, computer-generated images, drawings and sculptures. The Court held that child pornography is limited to depictions of actual minors.

New York v. Ferber
458 U.S. 747 (1982)
The U.S. Supreme Court established that actual images of minors engaged in sex or lascivious nudity is a class of speech exempt from First Amendment protection.

United States v. Knox
32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), aff’g 776 F. Supp. 174 (M.D. Pa. 1991)
The 3rd Circuit ruled that non-nude depictions of minors can be prosecuted as child pornography.

Video Software Dealers Association v. Oklahoma
6 F. Supp. 2d 1292 (W.D. Okla. 1997)
The U.S. District Court ruled that film “Tin Drum is not child pornography and that its seizure by the Oklahoma City police was an unlawful prior restraint.

Third Party Liability

The following cases are challenges to laws that allow a lawsuit against the media to impose civil liability for the actions of others. The First Amendment generally bars such third-party liability.


American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Village Books v. City of Bellingham
No. C88-1470D (W.D. Wash. Feb. 9, 1989)
The U.S. District Court struck down the City of Bellingham’s ordinance that provided a cause of action to allow individuals to sue publishers and retailers for producing material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Violent Content

The following cases are challenges to laws that criminalize or otherwise impose restrictions or penalties on material with violent themes and images. The Supreme Court held in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011) that violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for adults and minors.

American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick
244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001), rev’g 115 F. Supp. 2d 943 (S.D. Ind. 2000)
The 7th Circuit ruled that an Indianapolis ordinance adding “graphic violence” to the definition of “harmful to minors” is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
In the initial phase of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court found unconstitutional an Ohio law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.” The court also struck down the provision that restricted the electronic distribution of sexually explicit content “harmful to minors.” The 6th Circuit would later uphold the “harmful to minors” Internet statute as applied to sexual content, but after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to the violence provision in the 6th Circuit.)

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter
866 S.W.2d 520 (Tenn. 1993)
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state’s “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional, and the display provision was constitutional but only for material found to be “borderline obscenity.”

Entertainment Merchants Association v. Henry
No. CIV-06-675-C (W.D. Okla. Oct. 11, 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down an Oklahoma law that banned the sale of video games with “inappropriate violence” to minors by adding material containing “inappropriate violence” to the state’s “harmful to minors” law.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Illinois law banning the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors is unconstitutional. The court also struck down the law’s provision banning the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors, which the 7th Circuit upheld. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to violent content in the 7th Circuit.)

Entertainment Software Association v. Foti
451 F. Supp. 2d 823 (M.D. La. 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Louisiana law that added video games with violent content to the definition of “harmful to minors,” as well as video games with sexual content.

Entertainment Software Association v. Granholm
426 F. Supp. 2d 646 (E.D. Mich. 2006)
The U.S. District Court ruled that a Michigan law that added video games with “ultra-violent explicit” content to the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson
519 F.3d 768 (8th Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Entm’t Software Ass’n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D. Minn. 2006)
The 8th Circuit struck down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale of rental of games rated “M” or “AO” for any content, including violence, to anyone under 17 and imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County
329 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2003), rev’g 200 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (E.D. Mo. 2002)
The 8th Circuit ruled unconstitutional a St. Louis County ordinance that made it a crime to knowingly sell, rent, make available, or permit the “free play of” video games with violent content to or by minors without the consent of a parent or guardian.

United States v. Stevens
559 U.S. 460 (2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 federal law that criminalized the creation, sale or possession of images of images of animal cruelty if the act depicted in the image is illegal either where the image was captured or where it was possessed or distributed.

Video Software Dealers Association v. Maleng
325 F. Supp. 2d 1180 (W.D. Wash. 2004)
The U.S. District Court struck down a law that prohibited the rental or sale to anyone under 17 of computer and video games containing depictions of violence against law enforcement officers.

Zoning and Licensing

The following cases are challenges to laws that impose taxes or require license fees based on the content of the speech, and laws that define mainstream businesses as “adult businesses” and impose a range of restrictions on these types of businesses.

677 New Loudon v. State Tax Appeals Tribunal
19 N.Y.3d 1058 (N.Y. Ct. App. 2012), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 422 (2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari, concerning whether a state may discriminate in taxation among First Amendment-protected materials based on the perceived value of their content.

Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors
565 F. Supp. 2d 981 (S.D. Ind. 2008)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Indiana law imposing a license fee on retailers carrying any sexually explicit material was an unconstitutional tax on such material, content-based restriction and license on the retailer.

City News v. City of Waukesha
531 U.S. 278 (2001)
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case without reaching a decision on the merits, concerning whether municipalities must provide prompt judicial determination or simply the right to file promptly for judicial review in adult businesses licensing cases.

City of Littleton v. ZJ Gifts
541 U.S. 774 (2004)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Littleton, Colorado ordinance that does not provide a prompt judicial determination for adult licensing decisions.

City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books
535 U.S. 425 (2002)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Los Angeles could use its 1977 study as the basis for an ordinance that did not allow two adult facilities in the same building.

City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters
475 U.S. 41 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a city ordinance that prohibits adult motion picture theaters from being located within 1,000 feet from certain facilities, such as schools and churches.

FW/PBS v. Dallas
493 U.S. 215 (1990)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a licensing provision for adult businesses in Dallas because it failed to provide the businesses with proper procedural protection.

Miscellaneous

Bay News v. Freda Roberts, Tax Collector of Mobile County, Alabama
Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, 1980
The Alabama Circuit Court struck down a Mobile County tax on magazines that depicted nudity.

General Media Communications v. Cohen
131 F.3d 273 (2d Cir. 1997), vacating sub nom. Gen. Media Commc’ns v. Perry, 952 F. Supp. 1072 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Military Honor and Decency Act, a law that banned the sale or rental, at a military facility, of any material that “depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way” is constitutional.

Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television
132 P.3d 211 (Cal. 2006), aff’g in part 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 511 (Ct. App. 2004)
The California Supreme Court dismissed claims of sexual harassment against Warner Brothers. Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief highlighting the potential negative impact of a “creative necessity” test announced by the California Court of Appeals.

Newton v. Slye
116 F. Supp. 2d 677 (W.D. Va. 2000)
The U.S. District Court denied an injunction against restrictions on posting Banned Books Week material in a high school.

PMG International v. Rumsfeld
303 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2002), aff’g sub nom. PMG Int’l v. Cohen, 57 F. Supp. 2d 916 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
The 9th Circuit Court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit arguing that the Military Honor and Decency Act is unconstitutional.

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus
134 S. Ct. 2334 (2014), rev’g No. 11-3894/11-3925 (6th Cir. May 13, 2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court held  that “a credible threat of enforcement” is a sufficient threat of injury to establish standing in a First Amendment case when bringing a “pre-enforcement” challenge. The Court cited the standard in the Media Coalition case Virginia v. American Booksellers Association of “a reasonable threat of prosecution” as an acceptable formulation of the “credible threat” standard.

Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton
44 P.3d 1044 (Colo. 2002)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant seeking information about a book purchased by a Tattered Cover customer violated both the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution.

United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group
529 U.S. 803 (2000)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the section of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that required cable operators with channels with mostly sexually explicit programming to fully block audio or visual signals at a time when children may be watching is unconstitutional.

United States v. Williams
553 U.S. 285 (2008)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the pandering provision in the PROTECT Act.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Yahoo! v. Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme
433 F.3d 1199 (9th Cir. 2006), rev’g en banc 145 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
A French court held U.S.-based Yahoo!, Inc. liable under a broad French anti-hate law for content carried on its auction site in the United States, because the site is accessible to French citizens.

Sort cases by Media Coalition action
Litigation brought

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

American Booksellers Association v. McAuliffe
533 F. Supp. 50 (N.D. Ga. 1981)
The U.S. District Court struck down Georgia’s law restricting the display of material with sexual content on its cover or in its contents as a violation of the First Amendment.

American Booksellers Association v. Rendell
481 A.2d 919 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the state’s display statute.

American Booksellers Association v. Schiff
868 F.2d 1199 (10th Cir. 1989), rev’g 649 F. Supp. 1009 (D.N.M. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ruled that New Mexico’s display statute is constitutional after limiting the statute’s definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County
129 Cal. App. 3d 197 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 1982)
The California 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that an ordinance requiring that “harmful to minors” materials be shrink-wrapped is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. Webb
919 F.2d 1493 (11th Cir. 1990), rev’g 643 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Ga. 1986)
The 11th Circuit found that the Georgia “harmful to minors” law is constitutional but narrowed the scope of the law to limits on display only if the material is harmful to the oldest minors.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley
Civil Action No. 10-11165-RWZ (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2010)
The U.S. District Court found that a Massachusetts law that criminalized any electronic distribution of “harmful to minors” material was likely unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean
342 F.3d 96 (2d Cir. 2003), aff’g in part, modifying in part 202 F. Supp. 2d 300 (D. Vt. 2002)
The 2nd Circuit ruled that Vermont’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
The 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s “harmful to minors” Internet statute after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms and is limited to “personally directed” communications. In the initial part of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court struck down a provision in the law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan
799 F. Supp. 2d 1078 (D. Alaska 2011)
The U.S. District Court struck down Alaska’s application of its “harmful to minors” law to electronically transmitted speech and the state’s “harmful to minors” law, declaring both an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of adults.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Goddard
No. CIV 00-0505 TUC ACM (D. Ariz. July 22, 2004)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Arizona’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Johnson
194 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. 1999), aff’g 4 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (D.N.M. 1998)
The 10th Circuit ruled that New Mexico’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Library Association v. Pataki
969 F. Supp. 160 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The U.S. District Court struck down New York’s “harmful to minors” on the Internet statute as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Antigone Books v. Brnovich
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona permanently ordered state prosecutors to halt enforcement of a law that criminalizes the distribution of a nude photo without the consent of the person depicted. The order approved a joint final settlement between the parties.

Athenaco v. Cox
335 F. Supp. 2d 773 (E.D. Mich. 2004)
The U.S. District Court upheld Michigan’s law restricting the display of materials harmful to minors but clarified that the law only applies publications that have “harmful to minors” material on their covers or spines.

Bay News v. Freda Roberts, Tax Collector of Mobile County, Alabama
Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, 1980
The Alabama Circuit Court struck down a Mobile County tax on magazines that depicted nudity.

Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors
565 F. Supp. 2d 981 (S.D. Ind. 2008)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Indiana law imposing a license fee on retailers carrying any sexually explicit material was an unconstitutional tax on such material, content-based restriction and license on the retailer.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter
866 S.W.2d 520 (Tenn. 1993)
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state’s display provision was constitutional but only for material found to be “borderline obscenity,” and that the “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Florence v. Shurtleff
Civil No. 2: 05CV000485 (D. Utah May 15, 2012)
The State of Utah agreed to a stipulated order that limited the scope of the state’s Internet “harmful to minors” law so that it does not apply to the posting of “harmful to minors” content on generally accessible websites.

Garden District Book Shop v. Stewart
(2015 – ongoing)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction, blocking enforcement of a law that required websites to age-verify every internet user before providing access to material that could be deemed “harmful to minors.”

General Media Communications v. Cohen
131 F.3d 273 (2d Cir. 1997), vacating sub nom. Gen. Media Commc’ns v. Perry, 952 F. Supp. 1072 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Military Honor and Decency Act, a law that banned the sale or rental, at a military facility, of any material that “depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way” is constitutional.

Leech v. American Booksellers Association
582 S.W.2d 738 (Tenn. 1979)
The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the state’s obscenity and display law is unconstitutional.

Newton v. Slye
116 F. Supp. 2d 677 (W.D. Va. 2000)
The U.S. District Court denied an injunction against restrictions on posting Banned Books Week material in a high school.

PMG International v. Rumsfeld
303 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2002), aff’g sub nom. PMG Int’l v. Cohen, 57 F. Supp. 2d 916 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
The 9th Circuit Court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit arguing that the Military Honor and Decency Act is unconstitutional.

Powell’s Books v. Kroger
622 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2010), rev’g sub nom. Powell’s Books v. Myers, 599 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Or. 2008)
The 9th Circuit struck down the Oregon statute barring the dissemination of sexual material to minors that does not follow the test in Miller/Ginsberg.

PSINet v. Chapman
362 F.3d 227 (4th Cir. 2004), aff’g 167 F. Supp. 2d 878 (W.D. Va. 2001)
The 4th Circuit found that a Virginia law amending the state’s existing “harmful to juveniles” law to impose restrictions on Internet content was invalid under both the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

Shipley v. Long
454 F. Supp. 2d 819 (E.D. Ark. 2004)
The U.S. District court struck down a provision in an Arkansas law that required retailers to segregate and use blinders for materials “harmful to minors.”

Southeast Booksellers Association v. McMaster
371 F. Supp. 2d 773 (D.S.C. 2005)
The U.S. District Court struck down a South Carolina law applying the state’s existing “harmful to minors” statute to the Internet.

Tattered Cover v. Brohl
No. 13-cv-01431 (D. Colo. June 11, 2013)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Colorado law restricting the display of magazines whose focus is marijuana or the marijuana business.

Tattered Cover v. Tooley
696 P.2d 780 (Colo. 1985)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s “harmful to minors law” is unconstitutional.

Village Books v. City of Bellingham
No. C88-1470D (W.D. Wash. Feb. 9, 1989)
The U.S. District Court struck down the City of Bellingham’s ordinance that provided a cause of action to allow individuals to sue publishers and retailers for producing material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Amicus briefs

677 New Loudon v. State Tax Appeals Tribunal
19 N.Y.3d 1058 (N.Y. Ct. App. 2012), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 422 (2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari, concerning whether a state may discriminate in taxation among First Amendment-protected materials based on the perceived value of their content.

Alexander v. United States
509 U.S. 544 (1993)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that allowed the government to seize and destroy Ferris J. Alexander’s adult businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act when he was convicted of selling seven obscene magazines and videos.

American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick
244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001), rev’g 115 F. Supp. 2d 943 (S.D. Ind. 2000)
The 7th Circuit ruled that an Indianapolis ordinance adding “graphic violence” to the definition of “harmful to minors” is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey
534 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Gonzalez, 478 F. Supp. 2d 775 (E.D. Pa. 2007), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1137 (2009)
The U.S. Supreme ruled in 2004 that the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is overbroad and it was not the least restrictive means to prevent minors from accessing material harmful to minors. The Court remanded it to the U.S. District Court for fact-finding. The U.S. District Court struck down the law, which the 6th Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case for a third time, leaving in place the decision that the law is unconstitutional.

Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
535 U.S. 234 (2002), aff’g sub nom. Free Speech Coal. v. Reno, 198 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 1999)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 that expanded the definition of child pornography to images do not include an actual child, such as visual media involving adults portraying minors, computer-generated images, drawings and sculptures. The Court held that child pornography is limited to depictions of actual minors.

Brockett v. Spokane Arcades
472 U.S. 491 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Washington’s use of the word “lust” in its definition of “prurient interest” goes beyond the three-pronged test in Miller/Ginsberg and is unconstitutional.

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media. The 9th Circuit had previously ruled that the law’s labeling requirement is unconstitutional compelled speech and a content-based requirement.

City News v. City of Waukesha
531 U.S. 278 (2001)
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case without reaching a decision on the merits, concerning whether municipalities must provide prompt judicial determination or simply the right to file promptly for judicial review in adult businesses licensing cases.

City of Littleton v. ZJ Gifts
541 U.S. 774 (2004)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Littleton, Colorado ordinance that does not provide a prompt judicial determination for adult licensing decisions.

City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books
535 U.S. 425 (2002)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Los Angeles could use its 1977 study as the basis for an ordinance that did not allow two adult facilities in the same building.

City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters
475 U.S. 41 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a city ordinance that prohibits adult motion picture theaters from being located within 1,000 feet from certain facilities, such as schools and churches.

Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans
827 F.2d 1483 (11th Cir. 1987), aff’g in part 642 F. Supp. 552 (M.D. Ala. 1986)
The 11th Circuit ruled that the threats made by the Montgomery, Alabama District Attorney intimidating wholesalers and retailers into withdrawing adult magazines was an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Cyberspace Communications v. Engler
142 F. Supp. 2d 827 (E.D. Mich. 2001), remanded, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000), aff’g 55 F. Supp. 2d 737 (E.D. Mich. 1999)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Michigan’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment.

Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium v. FCC
518 U.S. 727 (1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could only impose “obscenity” and “harmful to minors” standards on cable television, instead of the “indecency” standard.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Illinois law banning the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors is unconstitutional. The court also struck down the law’s provision banning the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors, which the 7th Circuit upheld. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to violent content in the 7th Circuit.)

Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson
519 F.3d 768 (8th Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Entm’t Software Ass’n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D. Minn. 2006)
The 8th Circuit struck down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale of rental of games rated “M” or “AO” for any content, including violence, to anyone under 17 and imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana
489 U.S. 46 (1989)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government may not use RICO laws to make a wholesale pre-trial seizure of books or magazines.

FW/PBS v. Dallas
493 U.S. 215 (1990)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a licensing provision for adult businesses in Dallas because it failed to provide the businesses with proper procedural protection.

Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County
329 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2003), rev’g 200 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (E.D. Mo. 2002)
The 8th Circuit ruled unconstitutional a St. Louis County ordinance that made it a crime to knowingly sell, rent, make available, or permit the “free play of” video games with violent content to or by minors without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Jenkins v. Georgia
418 U.S. 153 (1974)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a local jury was wrong in declaring the movie “Carnal Knowledge” obscene.

Lo-Ji Sales v. New York
442 U.S. 319 (1979)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a generalized search and seizure of magazines and movies from the petitioner’s store without a particularized search warrant is unconstitutional.

Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television
132 P.3d 211 (Cal. 2006), aff’g in part 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 511 (Ct. App. 2004)
The California Supreme Court dismissed claims of sexual harassment against Warner Brothers. Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief highlighting the potential negative impact of a “creative necessity” test announced by the California Court of Appeals.

Maryland v. Macon
472 U.S. 463 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a detective entering an adult store, purchasing magazines, and then arresting the clerk for selling obscene material did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

New York v. Ferber
458 U.S. 747 (1982)
The U.S. Supreme Court established that actual images of minors engaged in sex or lascivious nudity is a class of speech exempt from First Amendment protection.

Penthouse v. McAuliffe
610 F.2d 1353 (5th Cir. 1980)
The 5th Circuit ruled that harassment and arrests of retailers prior to a final adjudication on obscenity is an unconstitutional prior restraint.

People v. Wiener
35 Cal. Rptr. 2d 321 (Ct. App. 1994)
The California 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s privacy laws do not protect against prosecution for the distribution of obscene material.

Pope v. Illinois
481 U.S. 497 (1987)
The U.S. Supreme Court clarified the “value” prong of the Miller test by ruling that the literary, artistic, political or scientific value of an allegedly obscene work must be weighed by a standard broader than that of any particular community. The new standard is that of a “reasonable person.”

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus
134 S. Ct. 2334 (2014), rev’g No. 11-3894/11-3925 (6th Cir. May 13, 2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court held  that “a credible threat of enforcement” is a sufficient threat of injury to establish standing in a First Amendment case when bringing a “pre-enforcement” challenge. The Court cited the standard in the Media Coalition case Virginia v. American Booksellers Association of “a reasonable threat of prosecution” as an acceptable formulation of the “credible threat” standard.

Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton
44 P.3d 1044 (Colo. 2002)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant seeking information about a book purchased by a Tattered Cover customer violated both the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution.

United States v. Alvarez
132 S. Ct. 2537 (2012)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime for any person to falsely represent that he or she had been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces.

United States v. Knox
32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), aff’g 776 F. Supp. 174 (M.D. Pa. 1991)
The 3rd Circuit ruled that non-nude depictions of minors can be prosecuted as child pornography.

United States v. PHE
965 F.2d 848 (10th Cir. 1992)
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Justice Department’s use of multi-jurisdictional prosecutions against Adam and Eve, a mail order business for sexually explicit materials, to force the company out of business was malicious.

United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group
529 U.S. 803 (2000)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the section of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that required cable operators with channels with mostly sexually explicit programming to fully block audio or visual signals at a time when children may be watching is unconstitutional.

United States v. Stevens
559 U.S. 460 (2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 federal law that criminalized the creation, sale or possession of images of images of animal cruelty if the act depicted in the image is illegal either where the image was captured or where it was possessed or distributed.

United States v. Williams
553 U.S. 285 (2008)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the pandering provision in the PROTECT Act.

Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis
780 F.2d 1389 (8th Cir. 1985), aff’g 602 F. Supp. 1361 (D. Minn. 1985)
The 8th Circuit ruled that a “harmful to minors” access statute is a permissible “time, place and manner” restriction on speech.

Vance v. Universal Amusement
445 U.S. 308 (1980)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Texas public nuisance statute permitting prior restraint of allegedly obscene motion pictures without prompt judicial review is unconstitutional.

Video Software Dealers Association v. City of Oklahoma
6 F. Supp. 2d 1292 (W.D. Okla. 1997)
The U.S. District Court ruled that the film “Tin Drum” is not child pornography and that its seizure by the Oklahoma City police was an unlawful prior restraint.

Video Software Dealers Association v. Maleng
325 F. Supp. 2d 1180 (W.D. Wash. 2004)
The U.S. District Court struck down a law that prohibited the rental or sale to anyone under 17 of computer and video games containing depictions of violence against law enforcement officers.

Yahoo! v. Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme
433 F.3d 1199 (9th Cir. 2006), rev’g en banc 145 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
A French court held U.S.-based Yahoo!, Inc. liable under a broad French anti-hate law for content carried on its auction site in the United States, because the site is accessible to French citizens.

Other cases

Entertainment Merchants Association v. Henry
No. CIV-06-675-C (W.D. Okla. Oct. 11, 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down an Oklahoma law that banned the sale of video games with “inappropriate violence” to minors by adding material containing “inappropriate violence” to the state’s “harmful to minors” law.

Entertainment Software Association v. Foti
451 F. Supp. 2d 823 (M.D. La. 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Louisiana law that added video games with violent content to the definition of “harmful to minors,” as well as video games with sexual content.

Entertainment Software Association v. Granholm
426 F. Supp. 2d 646 (E.D. Mich. 2006)
The U.S. District Court ruled that a Michigan law that added video games with “ultra-violent explicit” content to the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Playboy v. Meese
639 F. Supp. 581 (D.C. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ordered the Meese Commission to withdraw its letter to corporations threatening to list them as distributors of pornography and barred any such list of retailers from being issued.

Prison Legal News v. Kane
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down a Pennsylvania law that allowed victims to stop conduct — including speech — by a convicted offender if it causes “mental anguish.”

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union
521 U.S. 844 (1997), aff’g 929 F. Supp. 824 (E.D. Pa. 1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that respectively sought to criminalize the “knowing” transmission to minors of messages that are “obscene or indecent” and “patently offensive.”

Sort cases by courts
U.S. Supreme Court

677 New Loudon v. State Tax Appeals Tribunal
19 N.Y.3d 1058 (N.Y. Ct. App. 2012), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 422 (2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari, concerning whether a state may discriminate in taxation among First Amendment-protected materials based on the perceived value of their content.

Alexander v. United States
509 U.S. 544 (1993)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that allowed the government to seize and destroy Ferris J. Alexander’s adult businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act when he was convicted of selling seven obscene magazines and videos.

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey
534 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Gonzalez, 478 F. Supp. 2d 775 (E.D. Pa. 2007), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1137 (2009)
The U.S. Supreme ruled in 2004 that the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is overbroad and it was not the least restrictive means to prevent minors from accessing material harmful to minors. The Court remanded it to the U.S. District Court for fact-finding. The U.S. District Court struck down the law, which the 6th Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case for a third time, leaving in place the decision that the law is unconstitutional.

Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
535 U.S. 234 (2002), aff’g sub nom. Free Speech Coal. v. Reno, 198 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 1999)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 that expanded the definition of child pornography to images do not include an actual child, such as visual media involving adults portraying minors, computer-generated images, drawings and sculptures. The Court held that child pornography is limited to depictions of actual minors.

Brockett v. Spokane Arcades
472 U.S. 491 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Washington’s use of the word “lust” in its definition of “prurient interest” goes beyond the three-pronged test in Miller/Ginsberg and is unconstitutional.

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media. The 9th Circuit had previously ruled that the law’s labeling requirement is unconstitutional compelled speech and a content-based requirement.

City News v. City of Waukesha
531 U.S. 278 (2001)
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case without reaching a decision on the merits, concerning whether municipalities must provide prompt judicial determination or simply the right to file promptly for judicial review in adult businesses licensing cases.

City of Littleton v. ZJ Gifts
541 U.S. 774 (2004)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Littleton, Colorado ordinance that does not provide a prompt judicial determination for adult licensing decisions.

City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books
535 U.S. 425 (2002)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Los Angeles could use its 1977 study as the basis for an ordinance that did not allow two adult facilities in the same building.

City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters
475 U.S. 41 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a city ordinance that prohibits adult motion picture theaters from being located within 1,000 feet from certain facilities, such as schools and churches.

Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium v. FCC
518 U.S. 727 (1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could only impose “obscenity” and “harmful to minors” standards on cable television, instead of the “indecency” standard.

Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana
489 U.S. 46 (1989)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government may not use RICO laws to make a wholesale pre-trial seizure of books or magazines.

FW/PBS v. Dallas
493 U.S. 215 (1990)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a licensing provision for adult businesses in Dallas because it failed to provide the businesses with proper procedural protection.

Jenkins v. Georgia
418 U.S. 153 (1974)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a local jury was wrong in declaring the movie “Carnal Knowledge” obscene.

Lo-Ji Sales v. New York
442 U.S. 319 (1979)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a generalized search and seizure of magazines and movies from the petitioner’s store without a particularized search warrant is unconstitutional.

Maryland v. Macon
472 U.S. 463 (1985)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a detective entering an adult store, purchasing magazines, and then arresting the clerk for selling obscene material did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

New York v. Ferber
458 U.S. 747 (1982)
The U.S. Supreme Court established that actual images of minors engaged in sex or lascivious nudity is a class of speech exempt from First Amendment protection.

Pope v. Illinois
481 U.S. 497 (1987)
The U.S. Supreme Court clarified the “value” prong of the Miller test by ruling that the literary, artistic, political or scientific value of an allegedly obscene work must be weighed by a standard broader than that of any particular community. The new standard is that of a “reasonable person.”

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union
521 U.S. 844 (1997), aff’g 929 F. Supp. 824 (E.D. Pa. 1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that respectively sought to criminalize the “knowing” transmission to minors of messages that are “obscene or indecent” and “patently offensive.”

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus
134 S. Ct. 2334 (2014), rev’g No. 11-3894/11-3925 (6th Cir. May 13, 2013)
The U.S. Supreme Court held  that “a credible threat of enforcement” is a sufficient threat of injury to establish standing in a First Amendment case when bringing a “pre-enforcement” challenge. The Court cited the standard in the Media Coalition case Virginia v. American Booksellers Association of “a reasonable threat of prosecution” as an acceptable formulation of the “credible threat” standard.

United States v. Alvarez
132 S. Ct. 2537 (2012)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime for any person to falsely represent that he or she had been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces.

United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group
529 U.S. 803 (2000)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the section of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 that required cable operators with channels with mostly sexually explicit programming to fully block audio or visual signals at a time when children may be watching is unconstitutional.

United States v. Stevens
559 U.S. 460 (2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 federal law that criminalized the creation, sale or possession of images of images of animal cruelty if the act depicted in the image is illegal either where the image was captured or where it was possessed or distributed.

United States v. Williams
553 U.S. 285 (2008)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the pandering provision in the PROTECT Act.

Vance v. Universal Amusement
445 U.S. 308 (1980)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Texas public nuisance statute permitting prior restraint of allegedly obscene motion pictures without prompt judicial review is unconstitutional.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Federal circuit courts

American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick
244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001), rev’g 115 F. Supp. 2d 943 (S.D. Ind. 2000)
The 7th Circuit ruled that an Indianapolis ordinance adding “graphic violence” to the definition of “harmful to minors” is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

American Booksellers Association v. Schiff
868 F.2d 1199 (10th Cir. 1989), rev’g 649 F. Supp. 1009 (D.N.M. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ruled that New Mexico’s display statute is constitutional after limiting the statute’s definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Association v. Webb
919 F.2d 1493 (11th Cir. 1990), rev’g 643 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Ga. 1986)
The 11th Circuit found that the Georgia “harmful to minors” law is constitutional but narrowed the scope of the law to limits on display only if the material is harmful to the oldest minors.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean
342 F.3d 96 (2d Cir. 2003), aff’g in part, modifying in part 202 F. Supp. 2d 300 (D. Vt. 2002)
The 2nd Circuit ruled that Vermont’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
The 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s “harmful to minors” Internet statute after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms and is limited to “personally directed” communications. In the initial part of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court struck down a provision in the law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Civil Liberties Union v. Johnson
194 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. 1999), aff’g 4 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (D.N.M. 1998)
The 10th Circuit ruled that New Mexico’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey
534 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Gonzalez, 478 F. Supp. 2d 775 (E.D. Pa. 2007), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1137 (2009)
The U.S. Supreme ruled in 2004 that the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is overbroad and it was not the least restrictive means to prevent minors from accessing material harmful to minors. The Court remanded it to the U.S. District Court for fact-finding. The U.S. District Court struck down the law, which the 6th Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case for a third time, leaving in place the decision that the law is unconstitutional.

Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
535 U.S. 234 (2002), aff’g sub nom. Free Speech Coal. v. Reno, 198 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 1999)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 that expanded the definition of child pornography to images do not include an actual child, such as visual media involving adults portraying minors, computer-generated images, drawings and sculptures. The Court held that child pornography is limited to depictions of actual minors.

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media. The 9th Circuit had previously ruled that the law’s labeling requirement is unconstitutional compelled speech and a content-based requirement.

Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans
827 F.2d 1483 (11th Cir. 1987), aff’g in part 642 F. Supp. 552 (M.D. Ala. 1986)
The 11th Circuit ruled that the threats made by the Montgomery, Alabama District Attorney intimidating wholesalers and retailers into withdrawing adult magazines was an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Cyberspace Communications v. Engler
142 F. Supp. 2d 827 (E.D. Mich. 2001), remanded, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000), aff’g 55 F. Supp. 2d 737 (E.D. Mich. 1999)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Michigan’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Illinois law banning the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors is unconstitutional. The court also struck down the law’s provision banning the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors, which the 7th Circuit upheld. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to violent content in the 7th Circuit.)

Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson
519 F.3d 768 (8th Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Entm’t Software Ass’n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D. Minn. 2006)
The 8th Circuit struck down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale of rental of games rated “M” or “AO” for any content, including violence, to anyone under 17 and imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

General Media Communications v. Cohen
131 F.3d 273 (2d Cir. 1997), vacating sub nom. Gen. Media Commc’ns v. Perry, 952 F. Supp. 1072 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Military Honor and Decency Act, a law that banned the sale or rental, at a military facility, of any material that “depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way” is constitutional.

Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County
329 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2003), rev’g 200 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (E.D. Mo. 2002)
The 8th Circuit ruled unconstitutional a St. Louis County ordinance that made it a crime to knowingly sell, rent, make available, or permit the “free play of” video games with violent content to or by minors without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Penthouse v. McAuliffe
610 F.2d 1353 (5th Cir. 1980)
The 5th Circuit ruled that harassment and arrests of retailers prior to a final adjudication on obscenity is an unconstitutional prior restraint.

PMG International v. Rumsfeld
303 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2002), aff’g sub nom. PMG Int’l v. Cohen, 57 F. Supp. 2d 916 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
The 9th Circuit Court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit arguing that the Military Honor and Decency Act is unconstitutional.

Powell’s Books v. Kroger
622 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2010), rev’g sub nom. Powell’s Books v. Myers, 599 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Or. 2008)
The 9th Circuit struck down the Oregon statute barring the dissemination of sexual material to minors that does not follow the test in Miller/Ginsberg.

PSINet v. Chapman
362 F.3d 227 (4th Cir. 2004), aff’g 167 F. Supp. 2d 878 (W.D. Va. 2001)
The 4th Circuit found that a Virginia law amending the state’s existing “harmful to juveniles” law to impose restrictions on Internet content was invalid under both the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

United States v. Knox
32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), aff’g 776 F. Supp. 174 (M.D. Pa. 1991)
The 3rd Circuit ruled that non-nude depictions of minors can be prosecuted as child pornography.

United States v. PHE
965 F.2d 848 (10th Cir. 1992)
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Justice Department’s use of multi-jurisdictional prosecutions against Adam and Eve, a mail order business for sexually explicit materials, to force the company out of business was malicious.

Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis
780 F.2d 1389 (8th Cir. 1985), aff’g 602 F. Supp. 1361 (D. Minn. 1985)
The 8th Circuit ruled that a “harmful to minors” access statute is a permissible “time, place and manner” restriction on speech.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Yahoo! v. Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme
433 F.3d 1199 (9th Cir. 2006), rev’g en banc 145 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
A French court held U.S.-based Yahoo!, Inc. liable under a broad French anti-hate law for content carried on its auction site in the United States, because the site is accessible to French citizens.

Federal district courts

American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick
244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001), rev’g 115 F. Supp. 2d 943 (S.D. Ind. 2000)
The 7th Circuit ruled that an Indianapolis ordinance adding “graphic violence” to the definition of “harmful to minors” is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut
771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff’g 598 F. Supp. 1316 (S.D. Ind. 1984), aff’d mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the 7th Circuit’s decision striking down as unconstitutional the Indianapolis ordinance that defined “pornography” as a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance allowed individuals to sue a producer or distributor of material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

American Booksellers Association v. McAuliffe
533 F. Supp. 50 (N.D. Ga. 1981)
The U.S. District Court struck down Georgia’s law restricting the display of material with sexual content on its cover or in its contents as a violation of the First Amendment.

American Booksellers Association v. Schiff
868 F.2d 1199 (10th Cir. 1989), rev’g 649 F. Supp. 1009 (D.N.M. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ruled that New Mexico’s display statute is constitutional after limiting the statute’s definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Association v. Webb
919 F.2d 1493 (11th Cir. 1990), rev’g 643 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Ga. 1986)
The 11th Circuit found that the Georgia “harmful to minors” law is constitutional but narrowed the scope of the law to limits on display only if the material is harmful to the oldest minors.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley
Civil Action No. 10-11165-RWZ (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2010)
The U.S. District Court found that a Massachusetts law that criminalized any electronic distribution of “harmful to minors” material was likely unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean
342 F.3d 96 (2d Cir. 2003), aff’g in part, modifying in part 202 F. Supp. 2d 300 (D. Vt. 2002)
The 2nd Circuit ruled that Vermont’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
The 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s “harmful to minors” Internet statute after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms and is limited to “personally directed” communications. In the initial part of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court struck down a provision in the law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.”

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan
799 F. Supp. 2d 1078 (D. Alaska 2011)
The U.S. District Court struck down Alaska’s application of its “harmful to minors” law to electronically transmitted speech and the state’s “harmful to minors” law, declaring both an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of adults.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Goddard
No. CIV 00-0505 TUC ACM (D. Ariz. July 22, 2004)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Arizona’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Johnson
194 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. 1999), aff’g 4 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (D.N.M. 1998)
The 10th Circuit ruled that New Mexico’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey
534 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Gonzalez, 478 F. Supp. 2d 775 (E.D. Pa. 2007), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 1137 (2009)
The U.S. Supreme ruled in 2004 that the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is overbroad and it was not the least restrictive means to prevent minors from accessing material harmful to minors. The Court remanded it to the U.S. District Court for fact-finding. The U.S. District Court struck down the law, which the 6th Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case for a third time, leaving in place the decision that the law is unconstitutional.

American Library Association v. Pataki
969 F. Supp. 160 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The U.S. District Court struck down New York’s “harmful to minors” on the Internet statute as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Antigone Books v. Brnovich
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona permanently ordered state prosecutors to halt enforcement of a law that criminalizes the distribution of a nude photo without the consent of the person depicted. The order approved a joint final settlement between the parties.

Athenaco v. Cox
335 F. Supp. 2d 773 (E.D. Mich. 2004)
The U.S. District Court upheld Michigan’s law restricting the display of materials harmful to minors but clarified that the law only applies publications that have “harmful to minors” material on their covers or spines.

Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors
565 F. Supp. 2d 981 (S.D. Ind. 2008)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Indiana law imposing a license fee on retailers carrying any sexually explicit material was an unconstitutional tax on such material, content-based restriction and license on the retailer.

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011), aff’g sub nom. Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger, 556 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2009)
In striking down a California law that banned video games with violent content, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all violent content is fully protected by the First Amendment for both adults and minors. The landmark ruling also set precedent that video games have the same First Amendment protection as other media. The 9th Circuit had previously ruled that the law’s labeling requirement is unconstitutional compelled speech and a content-based requirement.

Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans
827 F.2d 1483 (11th Cir. 1987), aff’g in part 642 F. Supp. 552 (M.D. Ala. 1986)
The 11th Circuit ruled that the threats made by the Montgomery, Alabama District Attorney intimidating wholesalers and retailers into withdrawing adult magazines was an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Cyberspace Communications v. Engler
142 F. Supp. 2d 827 (E.D. Mich. 2001), remanded, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000), aff’g 55 F. Supp. 2d 737 (E.D. Mich. 1999)
The U.S. District Court ruled that Michigan’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment.

Entertainment Merchants Association v. Henry
No. CIV-06-675-C (W.D. Okla. Oct. 11, 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down an Oklahoma law that banned the sale of video games with “inappropriate violence” to minors by adding material containing “inappropriate violence” to the state’s “harmful to minors” law.

Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich
469 F.3d 641 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’g 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (N.D. Ill. 2005)
The U.S. District Court ruled that an Illinois law banning the sale or rental of video games with violent content to minors is unconstitutional. The court also struck down the law’s provision banning the sale or rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors, which the 7th Circuit upheld. (The state did not appeal the decision with regards to violent content in the 7th Circuit.)

Entertainment Software Association v. Foti
451 F. Supp. 2d 823 (M.D. La. 2006)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Louisiana law that added video games with violent content to the definition of “harmful to minors,” as well as video games with sexual content.

Entertainment Software Association v. Granholm
426 F. Supp. 2d 646 (E.D. Mich. 2006)
The U.S. District Court ruled that a Michigan law that added video games with “ultra-violent explicit” content to the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson
519 F.3d 768 (8th Cir. 2008), aff’g sub nom. Entm’t Software Ass’n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D. Minn. 2006)
The 8th Circuit struck down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale of rental of games rated “M” or “AO” for any content, including violence, to anyone under 17 and imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

Florence v. Shurtleff
Civil No. 2: 05CV000485 (D. Utah May 15, 2012)
The State of Utah agreed to a stipulated order that limited the scope of the state’s Internet “harmful to minors” law so that it does not apply to the posting of “harmful to minors” content on generally accessible websites.

Garden District Book Shop v. Stewart
(2015 – ongoing)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction, blocking enforcement of a law that required websites to age-verify every internet user before providing access to material that could be deemed “harmful to minors.”

General Media Communications v. Cohen
131 F.3d 273 (2d Cir. 1997), vacating sub nom. Gen. Media Commc’ns v. Perry, 952 F. Supp. 1072 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)
The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Military Honor and Decency Act, a law that banned the sale or rental, at a military facility, of any material that “depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way” is constitutional.

Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County
329 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2003), rev’g 200 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (E.D. Mo. 2002)
The 8th Circuit ruled unconstitutional a St. Louis County ordinance that made it a crime to knowingly sell, rent, make available, or permit the “free play of” video games with violent content to or by minors without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Newton v. Slye
116 F. Supp. 2d 677 (W.D. Va. 2000)
The U.S. District Court denied an injunction against restrictions on posting Banned Books Week material in a high school.

Penthouse v. McAuliffe
610 F.2d 1353 (5th Cir. 1980)
The 5th Circuit ruled that harassment and arrests of retailers prior to a final adjudication on obscenity is an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Playboy v. Meese
639 F. Supp. 581 (D.C. 1986)
The U.S. District Court ordered the Meese Commission to withdraw its letter to corporations threatening to list them as distributors of pornography and barred any such list of retailers from being issued.

PMG International v. Rumsfeld
303 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2002), aff’g sub nom. PMG Int’l v. Cohen, 57 F. Supp. 2d 916 (N.D. Cal. 1999)
The 9th Circuit Court affirmed the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit arguing that the Military Honor and Decency Act is unconstitutional.

Powell’s Books v. Kroger
622 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2010), rev’g sub nom. Powell’s Books v. Myers, 599 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Or. 2008)
The 9th Circuit struck down the Oregon statute barring the dissemination of sexual material to minors that does not follow the test in Miller/Ginsberg.

Prison Legal News v. Kane
(2015)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down a Pennsylvania law that allowed victims to stop conduct — including speech — by a convicted offender if it causes “mental anguish.”

PSINet v. Chapman
362 F.3d 227 (4th Cir. 2004), aff’g 167 F. Supp. 2d 878 (W.D. Va. 2001)
The 4th Circuit found that a Virginia law amending the state’s existing “harmful to juveniles” law to impose restrictions on Internet content was invalid under both the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union
521 U.S. 844 (1997), aff’g 929 F. Supp. 824 (E.D. Pa. 1996)
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down two provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that respectively sought to criminalize the “knowing” transmission to minors of messages that are “obscene or indecent” and “patently offensive.”

Shipley v. Long
454 F. Supp. 2d 819 (E.D. Ark. 2004)
The U.S. District court struck down a provision in an Arkansas law that required retailers to segregate and use blinders for materials “harmful to minors.”

Southeast Booksellers Association v. McMaster
371 F. Supp. 2d 773 (D.S.C. 2005)
The U.S. District Court struck down a South Carolina law applying the state’s existing “harmful to minors” statute to the Internet.

Tattered Cover v. Brohl
No. 13-cv-01431 (D. Colo. June 11, 2013)
The U.S. District Court struck down a Colorado law restricting the display of magazines whose focus is marijuana or the marijuana business.

United States v. Knox
32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), aff’g 776 F. Supp. 174 (M.D. Pa. 1991)
The 3rd Circuit ruled that non-nude depictions of minors can be prosecuted as child pornography.

United States v. PHE
965 F.2d 848 (10th Cir. 1992)
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Justice Department’s use of multi-jurisdictional prosecutions against Adam and Eve, a mail order business for sexually explicit materials, to force the company out of business was malicious.

Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis
780 F.2d 1389 (8th Cir. 1985), aff’g 602 F. Supp. 1361 (D. Minn. 1985)
The 8th Circuit ruled that a “harmful to minors” access statute is a permissible “time, place and manner” restriction on speech.

Video Software Dealers Association v. City of Oklahoma
6 F. Supp. 2d 1292 (W.D. Okla. 1997)
The U.S. District Court ruled that the film “Tin Drum” is not child pornography and that its seizure by the Oklahoma City police was an unlawful prior restraint.

Video Software Dealers Association v. Maleng
325 F. Supp. 2d 1180 (W.D. Wash. 2004)
The U.S. District Court struck down a law that prohibited the rental or sale to anyone under 17 of computer and video games containing depictions of violence against law enforcement officers.

Village Books v. City of Bellingham
No. C88-1470D (W.D. Wash. Feb. 9, 1989)
The U.S. District Court struck down the City of Bellingham’s ordinance that provided a cause of action to allow individuals to sue publishers and retailers for producing material containing depictions or descriptions of nudity or sexual activity.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.

Yahoo! v. Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme
433 F.3d 1199 (9th Cir. 2006), rev’g en banc 145 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
A French court held U.S.-based Yahoo!, Inc. liable under a broad French anti-hate law for content carried on its auction site in the United States, because the site is accessible to French citizens.

State courts

American Booksellers Association v. Rendell
481 A.2d 919 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the state’s display statute.

American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County
129 Cal. App. 3d 197 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 1982)
The California 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that an ordinance requiring that “harmful to minors” materials be shrink-wrapped is unconstitutional.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland
601 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2010), rev’g 512 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (S.D. Ohio 2007); questions certified to Ohio Supreme Court, 560 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), certified questions answered sub nom. Am. Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Cordray, 124 Ohio St. 3d 329, 2010-Ohio-149, 922 N.E.2d 192 (2010)
The 6th Circuit upheld Ohio’s “harmful to minors” Internet statute after the Ohio Supreme Court narrowed it so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms and is limited to “personally directed” communications. In the initial part of the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court struck down a provision in the law that included depictions or descriptions of violence to the definition of “harmful to minors.”

Bay News v. Freda Roberts, Tax Collector of Mobile County, Alabama
Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, 1980
The Alabama Circuit Court struck down a Mobile County tax on magazines that depicted nudity.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter
582 S.W.2d 738 (Tenn. 1979)
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state’s display provision was constitutional but only for material found to be “borderline obscenity,” and that the “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” was unconstitutional.

Leech v. American Booksellers Association
582 S.W.2d 738 (Tenn. Sup. Ct. 1979)
The Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the state’s obscenity and display law is unconstitutional.

Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television
132 P.3d 211 (Cal. 2006), aff’g in part 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 511 (Ct. App. 2004)
The California Supreme Court dismissed claims of sexual harassment against Warner Brothers. Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief highlighting the potential negative impact of a “creative necessity” test announced by the California Court of Appeals.

People v. Wiener
35 Cal. Rptr. 2d 321 (Ct. App. 1994)
The California 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s privacy laws do not protect against prosecution for the distribution of obscene material.

Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton
44 P.3d 1044 (Colo. 2002)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a search warrant seeking information about a book purchased by a Tattered Cover customer violated both the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution.

Tattered Cover v. Tooley
696 P.2d 780 (Colo. 1985)
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Colorado’s “harmful to minors law” is unconstitutional.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Association
882 F. 2d 125 (4th Cir. 1989), aff’g in part and rev’g in part sub nom. Am. Booksellers Ass’n v. Strobel, 617 F. Supp. 699 (E.D. Va. 1985); vacated and remanded, 88 U.S. 905 (1988), certified questions answered, 372 S.E.2d 618 (Va. 1988), questions certified to Virginia Supreme Court, 484 U.S. 383 (1988)
The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s “harmful to minors” display law after the Virginia Supreme Court narrowed it to apply only to the display of materials that would be illegal for the oldest minors. Before remanding the case to the 4th Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the law absent the threat of prosecution.