U.S. Seeks to Have FSC's 2257 Suit Dismissed

Feb 24, 2010 3:30 PM PST
PHILADELPHIA — Calling challenges to revised record-keeping rules "fruitless," government attorneys asked a federal court this week to dismiss the Free Speech Coalition's suit.

The FSC and 14 other plaintiffs claim in a suit filed last year against the government at U.S. District Court in Philadelphia that the revised 18 U.S.C. § § 2257 and 2257A regulations are unconstitutional, as well as an unfair burden placed to producers to comply with the regulations.

FSC Executive Director Diane Duke told XBIZ on Wednesday that the government's reply on an FSC motion to continue the case was expected.

"We will have an opportunity to go before the court in March," she said. "We have a solid case and are extremely hopeful."

So far, the suit has gained the attention of other groups defending free speech, including the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which both will present amicus briefs in the case.

Among other challenges to the FSC's suit, government attorneys this week said that placing burdens on producers for age-verification requirements "is a form of speech that receives no 1st Amendment protection at all" and that it is a "fact that producers remain free to create, publish, or distribute any images of adults engaged in sexual conduct as long as they adhere to the statutory and regulatory scheme designed to ensure that these performers are adults."

"Rather than offering a plausible challenge to these requirements, plaintiffs primarily rely on the notion that the government must come forward with new evidence to support requirements that were enacted over two decades ago," government attorneys wrote.

Government attorneys also honed in on the FSC's 4th Amendment challenge, over the fact that some plaintiffs operate businesses out of their homes and that records inspections would be burdensome.

"Because plaintiffs do not claim that any inspection has yet occurred, they are limited to a facial 4th Amendment challenge, and their imagined perception of how such inspections might be implemented in their individual circumstances cannot properly be part of the analysis," government attorneys wrote.

"Plaintiffs cannot claim a reasonable expectation of privacy in these records. Government inspection of these records therefore does not qualify as a 'search' subject to 4th Amendment challenge."

With this week's request, the U.S. has asked the court to dismiss the FSC's claim in the suit, as well as for a dismissal of its motion for preliminary injunction over 2257.

Besides the FSC, the plaintiffs attached to the suit include the American Society of Media Photographers, which represents 7,000 members; Barbara Nitke, a teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York and a commercial photographer; David Steinberg, a photographer and writer of sexual issues; Nina Hartley, a performer and website owner; and Michael Barone, a photographer.

The plaintiffs list also includes Dave Cummings, an adult industry performer who owns numerous websites; Tom Hymes, an adult industry journalist who runs a website; Sinclair Institute, which operates sexual health clinics; gay porn studio Channel 1 Releasing; Barbara Alper, a photographer; Carol Queen, a sexologist and feminist sex educator; Dave Levingston, a photographer; and Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross, who co-host a website.

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