Sex Toy Ordinance Case to Be Reheard in April

Sex Toy Ordinance Case to Be Reheard in April
Rhett Pardon

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The rehearing of an appellate case involving the city of Sandy Springs, Ga., which up until two weeks ago banned sex toys and novelties, will go on as planned next month.

Earlier this month, Sandy Springs’ city council moved to repeal language in an ordinance — subsection (c) of Section 38-120 in Article IV of Chapter 38 — which labeled sex toys and novelties as "obscene." Council voted unanimously to rescind the law.

The city enacted the ordinance in May 2004, prohibiting the open display of vibrators and sex toys by retailers. The law also required a doctor’s prescription to purchase them.

The legal challenge was made by the adult stores Flanigan’s and Inserection, which sought to sell the banned sex toys and novelties, along with Melissa Davenport, who said she used sexual toys medically with her husband to facilitate intimacy, and Marshall Henry, an artist who used the devices in his artwork.

The appellants argued the ban violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, contending that they have a fundamental right to engage in acts of private, consensual sexual intimacy and that the ordinance burdens this right.

Appellants are seeking injunctive relief in the case to make such bans illegal.

Sandy Springs reportedly wasn't the only state of Georgia government with such ordinances on the books. The cities of Alto, Milton, Johns Creek and Kennesaw, as well as Coweta and Cobb counties, have similar ordinances that classify sex toys and novelties as “obscene.”

Oral arguments are slated for Wednesday, April 26, before all judges of the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Montgomery, Ala.

Attorney J. Michael Murray will present arguments for the appellants who were affected by the sex toys and novelties ban in Sandy Springs, which is a suburb of Atlanta.

Murray is best known within the adult entertainment industry for his legal work representing the Free Speech Coalition, along with co-counsel Lorraine Baumgartner, in the trade group’s fight over federal recordkeeping regulations for adult producers.   

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