>The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals injected a good dollop of sanity into the ongoing legal wrangling over the 2257 federal record-keeping statutes, yesterday declaring them overly broad and unconstitutional.
Responding to government contentions that the regulations are necessary in fighting child pornography and that the laws place restrictions on conduct rather than speech, the court responded that these arguments are not persuasive. As reported in XBIZ, Judge Cornelia G. Kennedy, writing for the majority, points out that child pornography may more likely be considered conduct because the underlying conduct is illegal. She then gives us this money quote:
“Adult sexual conduct is not illegal and it is in fact constitutionally protected … The regulation of visual depictions of adult sexual activity is not based on its intrinsic relation to illegal conduct. It is, therefore, a regulation of speech, because both the photograph and the taking of a photograph ‘bear … [a] necessary relationship to the freedom to speak, write, print or distribute information or opinion.’”
A perusal of the court’s 27-page decision reveals more thoughtful consideration on the sweeping reach of the statutes, their chilling effects on free expression and the right to anonymity.
With greater analysis and updated FAQs still to come from the Free Speech Coalition, industry experts caution that the ruling applies to the 6th Circuit district only – and there’s the likelihood of continued government appeals – and one has to wonder about those adult sexual activities not always considered to be legal conduct. Still, reason for some celebration indeed!