- Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction
- Massachusetts' Brief in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction
- Decision Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction
- Press Release on the Granting of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction
- ABFFE v. Coakley Press Release
- Plaintiffs' Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
- MA S.B. 997 as passed by the Massachusetts Senate
- Media Coalition's Veto Request
- Media Coalition's Letter to Speaker De Leo
Most Recent News: On April 11, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an amendment to the 2010 law at issue in ABFFE v. Coakley, which addresses the constitutional issues that necessitated the legal challenge. The lawsuit ends with the passage of this amendment. The amendment is effective immedately and is a direct response to the preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel in October 2010.
Court Challenge: On July 13, members of Media Coalition, along with local booksellers, the Massachusetts ACLU and others, filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Massachusetts to block the Massachusetts law that criminalizes any electronic distribution of material “harmful to minors” material, including content posted on the Internet or on listerves. The law, which potentially bans consitutionally protected speech about art, literature, sexual health, and other topics, went into effect on July 12, 2010.
Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction supported by nine declarations – one from each plaintiff and one from an Internet expert – and a supporting brief on July 27. Massachusetts filed a brief in opposition to plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction on August 26. Arguments were heard by U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel in Boston on October 19. Judge Zobel issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the amended law on October 26.
On October 26, U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel granted plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of Massachusetts’ revised harmful to minors law. Judge Zobel granted the injunction on the ground that the amended code contains no requirement that a sender knowingly or purposefully disseminates “harmful” material to a specific minor. Judge Zobel heard argument in Boston on October 19.
Legislative History: Senate Bill 997 passed through both of Massachusetts’ legislative branches and was signed into law by the governor on April 12. The law went into effect on July 12. On March 30, 2010, Media Coalition sent a letter urging Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick either veto the overbroad provisions in the bill or return it to the legislature for reconsideration. The problematic provisions, added late in the legislative process, expand the state’s “harmful to minors” law to apply to electronic media in addition to traditional media. The Massachusetts law applies to both text and images deemed “harmful to minors” – whether or not the content is intended for minors’ access.
On April 5, 2010, Media Coalition sent a letter to Massachusetts’ Speaker of the House, Robert De Leo, asking that Sections 2 and 3 of SB 997 be reconsidered by the legislature. Those sections would apply that law to phones and any other devices capable of data transmission.