Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Censorship or Protection?

On Monday, the Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals struck down 2 Oregon laws meant to protect minors from exposure to pornography and prevent child abuse in POWELLS BOOKS v. KROGER.  The laws in question made it illegal to sell or give materials to children under 13 that were sexually explicit and another law which made it illegal to distribute materials to children under the age of 18 "visual, verbal, or narrative descriptions of sexual conduct,".  The suit was brought by Powell Books and many other booksellers and organizations including  the Oregon ACLU.  They claimed that the law violated the First Amendment and was overly broad to include such common children's books as those written by Judy Blume.  

The court agreed.  Though the state claimed that the laws were only meant to target the distribution of hardcore pornography, the court noted, The statutory text makes no mention of “hardcore pornography,” but rather refers to “sexually explicit material” and a “visual representation or explicit verbal description or narrative account of sexual conduct.” .  This term "sexually explicit" the court decided was too broad and could include many common books intended for children because the law made no exception for the purpose of the work as a whole and whether "the work possesses any “redeeming social value.”


  1. When thinking of the subject matter I kept thinking...well 13 year olds can abort babies without their parents knowledge so why shouldn't they be entitled to hardcore porn?
    Anywho nice writing Chels

  2. Well that does seem like an error on their part. Perhaps they should have been more specific and said hardcore porn.

    But this was a very interesting piece. Thanks for writing and keep on posting.