Official Press Release
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Dark Horse Comics applaud a decision issued by United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holding that two Oregon statutes that criminalize distributing sex education and other non-obscene materials to minors are unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment. The State of Oregon argued that the statutes applied only to “hardcore pornography,” but the Ninth Circuit found that they applied to much more, including Kentaro Miura’s manga “Berserk,” Judy Blume’s “Forever,” and Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale.” The plaintiffs did not challenge Oregon’s existing law making it a crime to contact a minor with the intent of having sexual contact. CBLDF and Dark Horse were among the plaintiff group challenging the statutes.
Mike Richardson, publisher of plaintiff Dark Horse comics says, "We were extremely happy to see these statutes overturned. Our Constitution's First Amendment was intended to keep the hands of the government off the printing presses of America. Creators everywhere can breath a sigh of relief that these laws, open to interpretation and likely to be abused, have been put down."
“This is an important victory permitting readers − both younger and older − to obtain what they are constitutionally entitled to read,” said Michael Powell of plaintiff Powell’s Books. “It is also a victory for booksellers who do not want to ask 13-year-olds for identification or risk going to jail for selling a Judy Blume book.”
“The court did the right thing by rejecting the State’s promise that it wouldn’t prosecute the plaintiffs under these statutes,” said P.K. Runkles-Pearson, counsel for plaintiffs. “This decision allows educators to provide straightforward health information to minors without worrying that the State will prosecute if it disagrees with them.”
The decision was issued in a lawsuit brought by Powell’s Books, Inc.; Annie Bloom’s Books; Dark Horse Comics, Inc.; Colette’s Good Food + Hungry Minds, LLC; Pauline Springs Books; St. John’s Booksellers, LLC; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; Association of American Publishers, Inc.; Freedom to Read Foundation, Inc.; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Candace Morgan, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette, Inc.; Cascade AIDS Project and the ACLU of Oregon.
Plaintiffs were represented by Michael A. Bamberger of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, New York, general counsel to Media Coalition, and P.K. Runkles-Pearson of Stoel Rives LLP, Portland, Oregon, a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Oregon.
The full text of the decision can be read at www.cbldf.org