Federal Judge Partially Dismisses Louisiana Age Verification Lawsuit

NEW ORLEANSA federal judge in Louisiana partially dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Free Speech Coalition and a slate of adult entertainment industry stakeholders challenging an age verification statute that entered force on January 1, 2023. Similar to a ruling in a federal district court in Utah, the court declared that counsel for the plaintiffs erred on some technical grounds.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan for the Eastern District of Louisiana said that the lawsuit has little legal justification because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity found in Ex Parte Young.

Ex Parte Young justifies lawsuits against public officials, but standards challenging the officials must be met.

According to Judge Morgan, the plaintiffs didn't meet the legal requirements to ask for a preliminary injunction blocking the age verification statute adopted by the state legislature.

This is due to the fact that Louisiana’s age verification requirement was formatted as a so-called “bounty” law.

A bounty law, as AVN has previously reported, is structured to save state officials the job of enforcing it by relying on private civil enforcement actions issued by the state’s courts.

Mike Stabile, director of public affairs for the Free Speech Coalition, said that while the group is unhappy with the ruling, it still believes the decision is considerably narrow.

“As with Utah, the Louisiana ruling is fairly limited and only applies to whether we can bring a pre-enforcement challenge against the law or whether we have to wait until a suit is brought,” Stabile said in a press statement to media outlets.

“While we disagree and will appeal, it’s not at all a ruling on the merits of the law, which are still clearly unconstitutional," he said.

The appeal will be to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A lawsuit filed in Texas by the Free Speech Coalition and the parent companies of the largest pornography platforms in the world is on appeal to the Fifth Circuit.