American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression et al v. Sullivan
DECLARATION of David Horowitz re 87 MOTION for Attorney Fees Plaintiffs' Application for Attorneys' Fees and Expenses by Alaska Library Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, Association of American Publishers, Inc., Book Blizzard LLC, Bosco's, Inc., Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, David & Melissa LLC, Donald R. Douglas, Entertainment Merchants Association, Freedom to Read Foundation. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit C, # 4 Exhibit D, # 5 Exhibit E, # 6 Exhibit F, # 7 Exhibit G, # 8 Exhibit H, # 9 Exhibit I, # 10 Exhibit J, # 11 Exhibit K)(Bamberger, Michael)
275 SEVENTH AVENUE • 15TH FLOOR • NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10001
PHONE: 212-587-4025 • FAX: 212-587-2436 • WWW.MEDIACOALITION.ORG
Foundation for Free
Association of American
Comic Book Legal
Freedom to Read
Association of America,
National Association of
Association of America,
Foundation for Free
Immediate Past Chair
Sean Devlin Bersell
Michael A. Bamberger
Sonnenschein Nath &
Memorandum in Opposition to Alaska House Bill 298 as Amended
The members of Media Coalition believe that House Bill 298 is significantly
improved by the amendments to the bill adopted by the Judiciary Committee but two parts
of the bill remain that likely violate the First Amendment rights of producers and retailers
and their customers. The trade associations and other organizations who comprise Media
Coalition have many members throughout the country including Alaska: book and
magazine publishers, booksellers and librarians as well as manufacturers and retailers of
recordings, films, videos and video games and their consumers.
Section 9 of H.B. 298 would amend AS 11.61.128(a) to bar the distribution of
material harmful to minors by any means by an adult to anyone under 16 years old or
someone the adult believes is less than 16 years old. Presently, 11.61.128(a) applies only
to electronic distribution but to a much broader amount of sexually explicit content.
Section 6 of H.B. 298 would make illegal sexually explicit material that depicts adults or
computer generated images that appear to be minors .
We believe the limiting of material subject to prosecution in 128(a) to material
harmful to minors is a significant improvement. However, the application to material
generally available on the Internet remains a concern. In Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S.
629 (1968) (as subsequently modified by Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)), the
Supreme Court established a three-part test for determining whether material is “harmful
to minors” and may therefore be banned for sale to minors. Limiting the prohibition in the
amended version of S.B. 298 to material that meets this three-part test is appropriate in a
“brick and mortar” store. However, the application to Internet communication in the bill,
and in the present law, is almost certainly unconstitutional even if it is limited to material
that could be restricted as harmful to minors. The application to the Internet treats
material as if there were no difference between a computer transmission and a book or
magazine. But cyberspace is not like a book or video or video game store. There is no
way to know whether the person receiving the “harmful” material is a minor or an adult.
As a result, the effect of banning the computer dissemination of material “harmful to
minors” is to force a provider, whether a publisher or an on-line carrier, to deny or restrict
access to both minors and adults, depriving adults of their First Amendment rights.
Two federal laws that restrict the availability of matter inappropriate for minors on
the Internet have been declared unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment. Reno
v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1997); Ashcroft v. ACLU, 534 F.2d 181 (3d Cir 2008), cert. den.
129 Sup. Ct. 1032 (2009). Similar state laws banning sexual speech for minors on the
Internet have also been ruled unconstitutional as well. See, PSINet v. Chapman, 63 F.3d
227 (4th Cir. 2004); ABFFE v. Dean, 342 F.3d 96 (2nd Cir 2003); Cyberspace
Communications, Inc. v. Engler, 238 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 2000); ACLU v. Johnson, 194 F.3d
The Media Declarationis a trade association that defends the First Amendment rights of
Coalition of David Horowitz, Exhibit C, Page 1 of 2
publishers, booksellers, librarians, recording, motion picture and video games producers,
and recording, video, and video game retailers and consumers in the United States.
1149 (10th Cir. 1999); Southeast Booksellers v. McMasters 282 F.Supp 2d 1180 (D.S.C. 2003);
American Libraries Ass’n v. Pataki, 969 F.Supp. 160 (S.D. N.Y. 1997); ACLU v.Goddard, Civ
No. 00-0505 TUC AM (D. Ariz. 2002). In addition to First Amendment deficiencies, some
courts have also ruled that these state laws violate the Commerce Clause, which reserves to
Congress the regulation of interstate commerce and prevents a state from imposing laws
While the members of Media Coalition are deeply concerned about the sexual
exploitation of minors and support laws that attempt to eradicate it, section 6(a)(2) of the bill
would criminalize material that is fully protected by the First Amendment and that does not
exploit minors. In a clear and resounding decision, the Supreme Court in Free Speech Coalition
v. Reno, 535 U.S. 234 (2002) found unconstitutionally overbroad a similar statute, the Child
Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA). The CPPA criminalized both sexually explicit
images of adults that appear to be minors and computer generated images that appear to be of a
minor engaging in real or simulated sex or with genitals lasciviously displayed. Free Speech
Coalition reaffirmed the holding in Ferber v. New York, 458 U.S. 747 (1982), that a state may
ban actual child pornography, but, at the same time, the Court made clear that these laws should
strike only at pictures of actual children being sexually abused and not at images that only appear
to be minors. The Supreme Court ruled that material which included only images that appear to
be minors engaged in prohibited activity was fully protected by the First Amendment and could
only be banned if found to be obscene under the three prong tests enunciated in Miller v.
California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).
Passage of this bill could prove costly. If a court declares it unconstitutional, there is a
good possibility that the state will be ordered to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys' fees. In the
successful challenges to such state laws plaintiffs have received as much as $450,000 in legal
If you would like to discuss further our position on this bill, please contact David
Horowitz at 212-587-4025 #11 or at email@example.com.
Again, we ask you to please protect the First Amendment rights of all the people of
Alaska and amend this legislation to address these concerns.
Declaration of David Horowitz, Exhibit C, Page 2 of 2
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?