Maryland House Bill 30


Summary

Maryland House Bill 30 would bar the display for sale of any book, magazine or other printed material pamphlet with a cover or content that is harmful to minors, unless it is behind blinders or in an opaque bag, so that only the name, price and date can be seen.

Status

The House Committee on Judiciary voted not to pass the bill.

Analysis

Any law that restricts the display of material “harmful to minors must have two elements:

» The determination of whether it is harmful to minors must be judged for older minors.

Without this element, the bookseller would have the impossible task to guess the age of each minor in a store and assess whether he or she is browsing a book that is illegal based on the minor’s age.

»  The law can only require that a retailer take reasonable steps to prevent minors from perusing harmful to minors material.

Courts have held that the government cannot mandate blinders, bagging or segregation as the only means for a retailer to prevent minors from accessing the material. Without this element, a bookseller would have to keep all of the books that might be inappropriate behind the counter. This could include art books, romance novels, sexual health material and numerous other books that contain sexual content. This is an unreasonable burden on the bookseller and adults who have a First Amendment right to access this material.

History

  • The bill was prefiled [2] on October 27, 2015. It was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary on January 13, 2016.
  • On January 19, 2016, Media Coalition submitted a legal memo [1] to the committee, explaining the constitutional issues with the bill. The memo was submitted ahead of a scheduled hearing on the bill.
  • On February 22, 2016, the committee voted not to pass the bill.

Last updated: Jul 27, 2016