WASHINGTON — The Woodhull Freedom Foundation and other plaintiffs today appealed U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s order that granted the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit over the enforcement of FOSTA.
Leon tossed the lawsuit because he ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing in the case; he never reached the constitutional issues involving FOSTA, which brings new tools for law enforcement, including the ability to bring criminal charges against the operators of sites that facilitate prostitution as well as civil claims.
Woodhull and the other plaintiffs noted First and Fifth Amendments violations come with FOSTA, a law amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which previously provided companies immunity from most liability for publishing third-party content.
Since FOSTA was passed in the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Trump numerous adult websites have been affected by the measure's intention to outlaw prostitution advertising. Many have closed shop or limited access.
“FOSTA directly threatens the right to sexual freedom and reduces the amount of life-saving information that can be shared online,” said Ricci Levy, Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s CEO.
“This law is a clear First Amendment violation hiding under the false assertion that by censoring the internet, prostitution and human trafficking will be stopped. We’re in this for the long haul and you can count on us to continue to fight illogical and unconstitutional laws, like FOSTA, which hamper our mission and restrict free expression.”
“We believe that the plaintiffs demonstrated standing to mount a pre-enforcement constitutional challenge to FOSTA, under the standards applicable in First Amendment cases,” said Lawrence Walters, of Walters Law Group, one of the attorneys representing Woodhull. “We remain optimistic about achieving the desired results in this case,” he added.
Other attorneys representing the plaintiffs include Robert Corn-Revere and Ronald London of Davis Wright Tremaine, Aaron Mackey and David Greene of the Electronic Freedom Foundation and Daphne Keller.
Woodhull’s appeal will be considered by a panel of three judges. No briefing schedule or hearing date has yet been scheduled.