Free Speech Coalition Sues Montana Over Age Verification Law

LOS ANGELES—The Free Speech Coalition and a slate of co-plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen. 

Here is the FSC's statement:

Free Speech Coalition (FSC) has filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Attorney General of Montana over the state’s age-verification law, SB544, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.

FSC and the other plaintiffs, including journalists, sex educators, therapists, book publishers, and sexual wellness retailers, are asking a district court to block enforcement of the law pending resolution of the case.

“The Montana law is dangerous, ineffective and deeply unconstitutional,” says Alison Boden, executive director of Free Speech Coalition.

“Laws like SB544 reach far beyond adult sites, restricting the right of journalists, educators, healthcare professionals and consumers to access the internet free of government interference. These laws, while nominally about age-verification, are so dangerous to consumer privacy that their practical effect is to censor constitutionally-protected expression. We are fully committed to fighting these attacks on free speech.”

Free Speech Coalition's co-plaintiffs in the suit are, a sex education platform; Lynsey Griswold, a Montana journalist and publisher at Oneshi Press; Ryn Pfeuffer, a journalist and sex worker; Dr. Anna Louise Petersen, a psychotherapist in Missoula; PHE, Inc., a national sexual wellness retailer; Convergence Holdings, Inc., a retailer doing business as Adam and Eve Montana; and JustFor.Fans, an adult content platform.

“Montanans pride themselves on their self-reliance, independence and willingness to stand up for individual liberty,” says co-counsel Natasha Prinzing Jones of Boone Kalberg in Missoula. “While keeping minors from accessing age-inappropriate content is a worthy goal, the law is overbroad and impermissibly vague, violates Montanans’ constitutional protections under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and has a significant chilling effect on legal speech on the internet. I look forward to standing up for individual rights in the face of government overreach.”

The parties are represented by Jeffrey Sandman of Webb Daniel Friedlander LLP, D. Gill Sperlein of the Law Office of D. Gill Sperlein, and Natasha Prinzing Jones of Boone Karlberg.

Read the complaint here.