Supreme Court Rejects Appeal on Ban on Sex Toy Sale

zimv20

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) rejected on Tuesday a constitutional challenge to an Alabama law that makes it a crime to sell sex toys.

The high court refused to hear an appeal by a group of individuals who regularly use sexual devices and by two vendors who argued the case raised important issues about the scope of the constitutional right to sexual privacy.

The law prohibited the distribution of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." First-time violators can face a fine of up to $10,000 and as much as one year in jail.

The law, adopted in 1998, allowed the sale of ordinary vibrators and body massagers that are not designed or marketed primarily as sexual aids. It exempted sales of sexual devices "for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose."

Georgia and Texas are the only other states that restrict the distribution of sexual devices, according to the court record in the case.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites), representing those who challenged the law, argued that private, consensual sexual conduct among adults is constitutionally protected and beyond the reach of government regulation.

They said the Supreme Court's decision in 2003 striking down a Texas sodomy law also created a fundamental, constitutional due process right to sexual privacy.

"The evidence shows that this case is not about novelty items, naughty toys or obscene matter. It is a case about human sexuality and extremely intimate acts," the attorneys said.

They said Alabama has never explained "why sales of performance enhancing drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra and even ribbed condoms are not similarly prohibited."

The attorneys said the state did not contest the evidence that about 20 percent of all American women use a vibrator and at least 10 percent of sexually active adults use vibrators in their regular sex life.

A federal judge ruled against the state and found a constitutional "right to use sexual devices like ... vibrators, dildos, anal beads and artificial vaginas."

But a U.S. appeals court based in Atlanta upheld the law by a 2-1 vote.

The appeals court said it agreed with Alabama that the law exercised time-honored use of state police power to restrict the sale of sex. It rejected the ACLU's argument that the constitutional right to privacy covered the commercial sale of sex toys.

(more)
 

miloblithe

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Nov 14, 2003
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Maybe I'm just not thinking this through properly, but what is a "legislative" sexual aid? What's a law enforcement one for that matter?
 

Lz0

macrumors regular
Jul 20, 2002
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PlaceofDis said:
gotta agree with you there
But don't you lot live in the "land of the free"?

George W keeps saying it's all for the freedom loving peoples of the world, isn't that you all?

Freedom, Justice, Liberty DOES NOT = U.S.A.

HA HA
 

Sayhey

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May 22, 2003
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Anyone think the Supremes would have gone this way if Kerry would have won in November? They know which way the wind blows and it isn't blowing in the direction of personal liberty or freedom from government intrusion into our private lives. Time to start organizing for 2006.
 

takao

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Dec 25, 2003
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brahahaha ... come on ... could it get more ridiculous ? ...so much for the land of the free...

but i have to say ... having the only sex-toy shop here across the street from the only mcdonalds is somehow comical ... it's rather amusing to look at the products while eating a burger (and before somebody says something: the products are kid safe they keep the 18+ stuff inside of the store ...)
 

Dont Hurt Me

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Dec 21, 2002
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Why is Govt involved in our bedrooms? what is next for the police state? tell when us to go bathroom and how to do it? America's freedoms & libertys have been widdled down by politicians who think govt is a cure all for everything they dont like including your sex life. So drugs to give you a boner is fine but toys are not. I wonder if this would happen if the pharmaceutical companies were selling these things? Govt gone haywire again. We should hold our officials more accountable on everything! while they cant seem to stop those illegal mexicans from walking in yet they can catch those moms selling sex toys...Amazing
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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(Alabama Attorney General) King said the law respected "the distinction between public commercial conduct and purely private behavior." He said, "It ... stays out of people's bedrooms."
What?? I find that statement to be totally incomprehensible. How do you ban sex toys and stay out of people's bedrooms at the same time?

That the Supremes would reach this kind of ruling, even without Rehnquist currently on the bench, is amazing, and is still more evidence of the dangerous, unconstitutional turn this court has taken. Of course, since the court defines "unconstitutional", this portends big trouble. We apparently have a Supreme Court that seems to interpret the constitution in arbitrary and capricious ways. (Does anybody know on what constitutional grounds the Supremes rejected the appeal? Or how they could basically contradict their own ruling in the case of the Texas sodomy law?)

I'm really kind of stunned at this. Libertarians must rightfully be crying bloody murder.

Since this has now gone through the Supreme Court and is the Law of the Land, do you know what it would take to reverse it? A constitutional amendment. Could you just picture that?

If we ever get out of this hell-hole of Puritan oppression and liberalism becomes in vogue again in this country, we'd have to pass The Twenty-Eighth Amendment: something like, "Congress shall make no law restricting the sale of sexual items for consensual purposes."

Oh, brother.
 

Dont Hurt Me

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Dec 21, 2002
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This is why we have checks and balances. I have found out in my years of dealing with the federal,state and local govts they all have 1 thing in common. Wanting more and more say on what we think, how we live and what we do and then wanting money from us so they can tell us how to live. Libertarians do look pretty good these days.
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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This is confusing. Because I couldn't find the original law, does anyone know if this is analgous to some drug laws that have been floating around? I mean, it is illegal to sell these devices in Alabama. Is it legal to own them? Or to buy them, either out-of-state or via the internet?

If so, then what is the point? If not, then it really doesn't stay out of the bedroom. If it is the latter, then how to you enforce this? What happened to the promotion of free-market ideology?

Is this aimed at keeping "undesireable" items out of the public sphere, as it might offend or corrupt? Then is pornography covered by this law? If not, then what the hell does this do?

Wierd.
 

miloblithe

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Nov 14, 2003
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stubeeef said:
Sorry I just have to.............Monica Lewinski
Yes, that was the obvious joke. Of course, it's also incorrect. That would be executive.

But seriously, what the hell do those terms mean? What is a law enforcement sexual aid?
 

Sayhey

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May 22, 2003
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brap said:
That's right, sex is bad. You heard it here first.

Sweet bejeezus.
No, married heterosexual sex in one's bedroom with the lights out for the purpose of reproduction is good; all other sex is bad. Oh, yes, missionary position only and you can't enjoy it. :eek:
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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Sayhey said:
...SNIP...Oh, yes, missionary position only and you can't enjoy it. :eek:
<bold mine>
Bedroom evangelism? I have heard God mentioned from time to time...

Seriously, like in many walks-of-life, the worst actions stem from insecurity, which ironically, seems to often stem from a lack of faith. Pathetic.
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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Sayhey said:
No, married heterosexual sex in one's bedroom with the lights out for the purpose of reproduction is good; all other sex is bad. Oh, yes, missionary position only and you can't enjoy it. :eek:
You forgot the rhythm method. ;)
 

Sayhey

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May 22, 2003
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Thomas Veil said:
You forgot the rhythm method. ;)
You're right, of course, but I've always thought this a contradiction. Doesn't the rhythm method imply that you have actually thought about sex! Shouldn't this all be left to god's will?
 

Lyle

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Jun 11, 2003
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Madison, Alabama
blackfox said:
This is confusing. Because I couldn't find the original law, does anyone know if this is analgous to some drug laws that have been floating around? I mean, it is illegal to sell these devices in Alabama. Is it legal to own them? Or to buy them, either out-of-state or via the internet?
Alabama Senate Bill 607, passed in 1998, says, "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or offer or agree to distribute any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value." So, it is illegal to sell those devices in Alabama; it is legal to buy them out-of-state or via the Internet, and it is legal to possess them.

This story is getting a lot of press coverage here in the Huntsville area because the plaintiff (Sherri Williams) is a local business owner. See this Web site for her side of the story. (If it matters, this one is "safe for work"; it's not her business' web site).
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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Thanks, Lyle.

What is your opinion, here? Do you understand the motive(s) behind this law? As stated in my above post, I sure don't.

*EDIT* So does this law cover pornography? What is the standard of "obscene"? Is it well-defined?

Can these devices still be sold if marketed for something else, even if it is obviously spurious (like drug paraphanalia in many states)?

It just seems like this is a way for the state to shake-down certain types of business for revenue, through arbitrary prosecution (resulting in fines and court fees etc.), under the guise of morality.
 

zimv20

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Lyle said:
"It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or offer or agree to distribute any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value." So, it is illegal to sell those devices in Alabama; it is legal to buy them out-of-state or via the Internet, and it is legal to possess them.
the way i read it, it's also legal to give them away.