NEW ORLEANS – A federal judge threw out an adult entertainment group’s case against a law in Louisiana that says se*ually explicit websites must check the ages of their viewers. But people who don’t like the law say that they are likely to appeal.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan in New Orleans ruled that the state officials named in the lawsuit—state public safety secretary James LeBlanc, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, and Attorney General Jeff Landry—cannot be sued because they don’t have a duty to enforce the act, which lets people who break it be sued and face civil penalties.
Morgan said that giving the three state officials an injunction wouldn’t stop people from suing content providers who don’t check the age of their viewers.
People who don’t like the law plan to appeal. In other states, similar laws have been passed and are being fought. A federal judge recently threw out a law like this in Texas. So far, no one has been able to change a similar law in Utah.
“Like the Utah decision, the Louisiana decision is pretty limited. It only says whether we can challenge a law before it is enforced or if we have to wait until a suit is filed. “While we disagree and will file an appeal, this is in no way a ruling on the law itself, which is still clearly unconstitutional,” said Mike Stabile, a spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition. He later changed his statement to say that it is likely to be appealed.
The law that was passed in 2022 says that these websites can be sued for damages and the state can fine them up to $5,000 a day. if they don’t use digital state-issued driver’s licenses or other methods to make sure that users are at least 18 years old.
Opponents say that the law could limit free speech because the terms are so vague that providers wouldn’t be able to figure out what is “material harmful to minors.” They say that the laws can make it hard for adults to get on websites if they don’t have a state-issued ID or don’t want to use online verification methods out of fear that their information will be stolen.
In Louisiana, the plaintiffs include the Free Speech Coalition, three sites that offer se*ually explicit content, and a woman who lives in Louisiana but doesn’t have a state ID and doesn’t want to lose access to adult sites.