5th Circuit Allows Texas Age Verification Law to Enter Force

AUSTIN—A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an administrative stay on the preliminary injunction blocking Texas House Bill 1181 from entering into force, meaning that the law is now in effect. 

Techdirt notes this type of stay is used as a measure to pause litigation until the applicable court reviews and rules in an expedited request for relief by one or more of the parties involved with the case. The court advanced the case to a panel at the earliest possible time. 

Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, on Saturday won an impeachment trial launched against him in May and is likely to take over the state's defense. 

House Bill (HB) 1181 is a controversial law requiring an age verification regimen for all adult websites that have users from Texas IP addresses. The law was challenged in a federal district court last month due to a measure in the bill that would require adult websites to additionally post health warning labels at the top and bottom of web pages and on marketing collateral. 

The Free Speech Coalition, the parent companies of the largest adult tube sites in the world, and pay-sites affiliated with these platforms sued the state of Texas, arguing that HB 1181 is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.

They argued that a government cannot require a privately owned website to issue a public health warning when the claims in the warnings are not accepted by mainstream medicine, psychology and neuroscience. 

Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra agreed with the plaintiffs and issued a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking Texas from enforcing the law. 

Then-acting Attorney General Angela Colmenero asked for the injunction to be lifted, but Judge Ezra declined.