Judge rules Texas law requiring age verification at porn sites dicks over First Amendment rights

PornHub sued to overturn the new rule on free-speech grounds, and a judge agreed, calling the law 'unconstitutional on its face.'

click to enlarge Free porn site Pornhub won a court victory over the state of Texas. - Shutterstock / charnsitr
Shutterstock / charnsitr
Free porn site Pornhub won a court victory over the state of Texas.
Yet another court has ruled that the GOP-dominated Texas Legislature overstepped constitutional bounds during this year's culture war-fueled session.

On Thursday, a federal judge in San Antonio ruled that a new state law forcing porn sites to use age-verification measures — such as a requiring users to submit facial scans or pictures of their government-issued photo IDs — violates the First Amendment. The law also would require sites to bear a “Texas Health and Human Services Warning” about the dangers of ogling porn.

Website PornHub and adult-entertainment industry advocacy group The Free Speech Coalition sued to overturn House Bill 1181 on free-speech grounds. Senior U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas agreed, calling it overly broad and "unconstitutional on its face."

“The statute is not narrowly tailored and chills the speech of Plaintiffs and adults who wish to access sexual materials,” Ezra wrote in his decision.

A similar law went into effect in Louisiana early this year, prompting Pornhub and its allies to sue. The adult site's web traffic in Louisiana plummeted by 80% after that statute passed, according to a Texas Public Radio report.

Ezra's ruling is the latest to slap down a newly adopted Texas law as a violation of free-speech rights.

On Thursday, a federal judge temporarily blocked a new state law that critics say amounts to a ban on public drag performances. The same day, yet another federal judge said he'll block a recently passed state law requiring booksellers to review any materials sold to schools to ensure they don't contain sexually explicit material.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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