Stakeholders React to SCOTUS Taking Up Texas AV Case

LOS ANGELES—The U.S. Supreme Court announced earlier today that it would take up a potentially landmark age verification case involving adult industry stakeholders and Texas.

In the case of Free Speech Coalition et al. v. Paxton, adult industry companies and a nonprofit trade organization representing the industry, the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), challenges the constitutionality of Texas House Bill (HB) 1181, which requires adult platforms to verify the age of all users who log on to porn websites from IP addresses in the Texas digital space.

The FSC and a plaintiff class of the largest adult platforms on the internet petitioned the high court for a writ of certiorari to render HB 1181 unconstitutional. The conservative-leaning Supreme Court granted the bid, and oral arguments are expected during the court's next term.

"Sexual expression is the canary in the coal mine of free speech, and we look forward to defending the rights of all Americans to access the internet privately and free from surveillance," said Alison Boden, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, in a press release.

AVN has extensively reported on this case's lifecycle, from its initial filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to its subsequent appeal to the notoriously conservative U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, forcing a split decision that age verification is constitutional.

Despite this ruling, the plaintiffs appealed to the high court and now have succeeded. Several organizations filed amicus briefs urging the high court to take up the case.

AVN reached out to some of the individuals and organizations that filed amicus briefs supporting the argument for the Supreme Court to grant the plaintiffs' application for a writ of certiorari. For many we spoke to, the decision to take up the case validates the need to clarify the constitutionality of government-mandated age verification requirements.

"I am overwhelmingly thrilled with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to take on this imperative legal challenge," said attorney Corey Silverstein. Silverstein, along with other attorneys from the adult entertainment and technology space, filed an amicus brief with funding from MojoHost in support of the high court taking up the Texas age verification lawsuit.

"The states passing these age verification laws are completely ignoring the U.S. Constitution and existing case precedent," Silverstein explained. "The court granting this petition for writ of certiorari is a battle win in a prolonged war against ... lawmakers and the Fifth Circuit, which has seemingly been fueled more by conservative politics versus following the law."

Silverstein was joined by fellow adult industry attorney Larry Walters in filing an amicus brief on behalf of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation and the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

"Victory for justice," reads a post on X by Woodhull Freedom Foundation, a non-governmental organization that advocates for broad sex workers' rights and sexual freedom under the First Amendment. "The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in Free Speech Coalition v. Ken Paxton, AG of TX! This is a huge win for free speech and privacy online!"

Walters, managing partner of Walters Law Group and general counsel for the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, told AVN, "Given the wave of state age verification laws recently adopted in the U.S., the court must provide some guidance to avoid protracted state-by-state litigation of these issues. ... While there are always risks involved in presenting issues like this to the [Supreme Court], we remain hopeful that the Justices adhere to prior precedent and strike down the harmful and constitutionally defective Texas law."

The plaintiffs are represented by a team of attorneys from firms Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP., Webb Daniel Friedlander, LLP., and the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Ken Paxton and his office are representing the state of Texas in his official capacity as state Attorney General.