Home > News > U.S. Justices May Hear Alabama Sex Toy Ban Case • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


U.S. Justices May Hear Alabama Sex Toy Ban Case

U.S. Justices May Hear Alabama Sex Toy Ban Case
Get XBIZ News
XBIZ Research
Will virtual reality boost the paysite market?
Yes, it will soon
Yes, but in a few years
Out of 151 votes. Results based on votes submitted by members of XBIZ.net social network.
Jul 10, 2007 7:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
WASHINGTON — A rare move made last week by the U.S. Supreme Court may indicate that the nation’s highest court is giving real consideration to hearing a case challenging Alabama’s ban on the sale of sex toys, according to legal experts familiar with the case.

In the case Williams vs. Alabama, adult novelty shop owner Sherri Williams is challenging the Alabama state law that prohibits the commercial distribution of devices “primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.”

The most recent decision in the case came from a panel of judges from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the court held that “public morality remains a legitimate rational basis for the challenged legislation,” and deemed the Alabama ban constitutional.

Following the decision from the 11th Circuit, Williams petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case, filing a writ of certiorari in May of this year. At the time, the state of Alabama declined to file an opposition to Williams’ writ, a move that is not uncommon when an opposing party believes the Supreme Court is unlikely to take the case.

Last week, the Supreme Court directed the state to respond to Williams’ writ of certiorari — something that experts said the court is unlikely to do if they are not at least considering hearing the case.

“This does not happen often,” Reed Lee, president of the 1st Amendment Lawyers Association, told XBIZ. “The court has requested a response, which it seems to me they would not do if there were no interest in taking the case; by and large, the court does not assign meaningless paperwork.”

According to Lee, because the Supreme Court receives thousands of requests to hear cases every year but only grants certiorari in several dozen of those cases, it is highly unlikely they would request more information on a case that they had no intention of hearing.

The Williams case has taken a long and winding path to the doorstep of the Supreme Court. Most recently, a panel from the 11th Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a decision by an Alabama district court. It concurred with the lower court that there was “no currently recognized fundamental right to use sexual devices,” while reversing the district court’s decision that the statute lacked a “rational basis,” holding that the “promotion and preservation of public morality” provided that rational basis.

Asked in what sense the sale of sex toys might impact “public morality,” Lee said that in the mind of many judges hearing such cases, “because it involves commerce, this makes it ‘public.’” Further, Lee said that for some jurists there is a notion that “commerce is almost sanctified,” and that anything related to adult entertainment or sexual materials has a negative impact on commerce, in general.

“Some judges think that [in free speech cases], public morality and notions of propriety should be given more weight when there is commerce involved,” Lee said. “They think that adult materials somehow degrade commerce.”

Despite the unusual move on the part of the Supreme Court to direct the government to respond to Williams’ writ, Lee said it will be “at least the first week of October” before the court announces its decision on whether it will hear the case.

More ways to get XBIZ News:  RSS Feeds  |  E-Newsletters  |  Desktop Widget  |  Mobile
Looking for porn star news and behind-the-scene videos? Check out XFANZ.com !


WIA Profile: Mia Saldarriaga

Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of... More »

Profile: CAM4 Pushes Boundaries in Adult

CAM4 remains a leading live-streaming adult show platform in what has quickly become a very competitive field. Although CAM4 launched as a brand in 2007, the company behind it has been involved in the... More »

ExoClick’s Publishing Head Is Passionate About Job

ExoClick’s Ada LLlorca, who leads publishing efforts for the ad network, sure loves the adult webmaster space. And maybe that’s why she can honestly say she’s good friends with the company’s... More »
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.

Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Subscribe to XBIZ Premiere magazine, the industry's leading adult retail trade publications, delivering the most timely and comprehensive business news and information to producers and retailers of adult products.



Nov 04 - Nov 06
Edison, New Jersey

2016 Inked Awards

Nov 05 - Nov 05
Edison, New Jersey

XBIZ 2017

Jan 09 - Jan 13
Hollywood, CA

XBIZ Awards 2017

Jan 12 - Jan 12
Los Angeles, CA
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!