FSC's 2257 Case Heads Back to Court on Sept. 28

FSC's 2257 Case Heads Back to Court on Sept. 28
Rhett Pardon

PHILADELPHIA — Later this month, a federal judge in Philadelphia will hear oral arguments on competing motions for judgment in the Free Speech Coalition’s long-running challenge over federal record-keeping statutes for adult entertainment producers.

The two opposing sides, the FSC and the Justice Department, are each seeking a judgment in their favor.

At the heart of the current case, the FSC contends that the Justice Department has failed to establish the existence of a problem that 18 U.S.C. §§ 2257 and 2257A were purportedly enacted to address and that the statutes are unconstitutionally overbroad.

The FSC has asked for the court to enter judgment declaring 2257 and 2257A and their implementing regulations unconstitutional and permanently enjoining their enforcement, claiming the laws violate the First Amendment.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, argues in a motion that the government continues to have a “compelling interest” in protecting children from sexual exploitation by pornographers and that 2257 and 2257A satisfy strict scrutiny’s narrow tailoring requirement. (Strict scrutiny presumes a law to be invalid unless the government can prove the law's constitutionality and demonstrate a compelling governmental interest in keeping it.)

Oral arguments over the strict scrutiny issues will come about eight months after U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson entered a judgment in favor of the FSC and against the government over several portions of 2257 that required recordkeepers to "make such records available to the attorney general for inspection at all reasonable times,” as well as its implementing regulations under 28 C.F.R. § 75.5.

In that ruling, Baylson said that elements of 2257 were facially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Oral arguments have been set for Thursday, Sept. 28, at 2:30 p.m. before Baylson at Philadelphia federal court.

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