Judge Says Mich. Porn Law Is Constitutional

Judge Says Mich. Porn Law Is Constitutional
Rhett Pardon
LANSING, Mich. — A federal court ruled Monday that Michigan’s state law barring pornographic material to minors is constitutional.

The law, known as 2003 Michigan Public Act 192, imposes criminal liability on those who “knowingly disseminate or distribute sexually explicit material that is harmful to minors” under 18.

Michigan's law was signed last November and imposes fines of $10,000 and sentencing of up to two years in jail. The statute encompasses "any book, pamphlet, printed matter reproduced in any manner or sound recording," as well as "a picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film or similar visual representation."

In Monday’s ruling, the U.S. District Court found that the act is not overbroad, and does not violate the First Amendment.

“The court finds that the act is not overbroad because the challenged provisions all refer to materials that are harmful to minors as defined in [the law]," Judge Anna Diggs Taylor wrote in her ruling. “Further, [it] does not prevent plaintiffs from selling or showing non-obscene sexually explicit materials for adults to view, but rather only restricts the manner in which the materials may be displayed.”

Athenaco Book Shop of Kalamazoo, Mich., asserted that complying with the law was an infringement upon the First Amendment rights of others to browse among their merchandise, and that the costs of physically complying with the law were untenable, as it could result in the plaintiffs being mischaracterized as "adult bookstores."

The Athenaco Book Shop, which also argued the law is overly broad and vague, is located in the South Kalamazoo Mall.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox hailed the ruling.

“I will not allow pornographic material to be spread to our minors, and I'm pleased that the court agrees," Cox said.

The case is Athenaco Ltd. vs. Attorney General Mike Cox.