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Oregon Obscenity Law Ruled Unconstitutional

A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled an Oregon obscenity law unconstitutional.

The law was intended to give prosecutors better tools to pursue sexual predators.  It made it illegal to distribute some sexually-oriented materials to minors.

The law held penalties for anyone who gave kids explicit materials.

Booksellers, health educators, and comic book publishers teamed up to challenge the law.

Attorney P.K. Runkles-Pearson is an attorney with the ACLU of Oregon.

She says the state tried to argue that prosecutors would be selective, and avoid going after booksellers and others. But she says the appeals court found the threat to constitutional rights was stronger.

P.K. Runkles-Pearson “It’s not going to be good enough any more for states saying we’re not going to prosecute. There has to be more effort put into crafting laws in a way that’s going to protect peoples’ rights.”

A spokesman for Oregon’s Justice Department says the state is aware of the decision, but has yet to determine whether to appeal.

Options for the state might include asking for a hearing before a wider 9th Circuit panel, or filing a petition with the Supreme Court.