Georgia Sex Toy Ban Could Go to U.S. Supreme Court

Lila Gray

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — The legal resolution of a suit brought against Atlanta suburb Sandy Springs’ reigning sex toy ban may not be so simple due to conflicting previous court rulings related to the issue.

The current city ordinance requires residents to obtain a prescription, or provide a medical or scientific reason, to buy a sexual device.

Melissa Davenport, a local woman who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, filed the suit against Sandy Springs, arguing that the ordinance encroaches on people’s privacy and blatantly violates the Fourteenth Amendment. She also said that sex toys saved her 24-year marriage after she began losing sensitivity in her genitals, which wreaked havoc on her sex life.

While Sandy Springs officials are poised to respond to the complaint in May, previous rulings on similar cases may make the court’s decision rather sticky — and the matter could potentially travel all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Scott Titshaw, a law professor at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, explained that there have been two U.S. Court of Appeals cases on the subject in recent years: one the 11th Circuit (which includes Georgia) that upheld Alabama’s statewide ban on sex toys, and one in the neighboring 5th Circuit, which struck down a similar ban in Texas.

“Both [rulings] focused on the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but they parsed the Lawrence vs. Texas case – the Texas sodomy case – in very different ways,” Titshaw said. 

The U.S. Supreme Court may need to step in and resolve the divergent opinions of the 5th and 11th Circuits.