Third Circuit Reverses 2257 Decision on Appeal

CANOGA PARK, Calif.—The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals today overturned a July 2010 district court decision to dismiss a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 2257 and 2257A. In a unanimous ruling by a 3-judge panel of the court—which included an opinion written by Judge D. Brooks Smith, with a concurring opinion by Judge Marjorie O. Rendell—the district court's ruling in FSC v Holder was partially invalidated and the case was remanded back to the lower court "for further proceedings."

In his conclusion, Judge Smith wrote, "We will vacate the District Court’s order to the extent that it: dismissed in their entirety Plaintiffs’ claims brought pursuant to the First Amendment (Count 1) and the Fourth Amendment (Count 4); dismissed Plaintiffs’ claim for injunctive relief (Count 6) to the extent that it asserts a right to injunctive relief for violations of the First Amendment or the Fourth Amendment; and denied Plaintiffs leave to amend their Fourth Amendment claim (Count 4). We will affirm the District Court’s order in all other respects and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with the foregoing opinion."

The suit was originally filed by the Free Speech Coalition and 14 other plaintiffs. Attorneys J. Michael Murray and Lorraine Baumgardner represented FSC and the other plaintiffs in the suit, which challenged 2257 and 2257a on grounds that the regulations violate the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution—and in doing so abridge the rights of adult producers and threaten the privacy rights of adult performers.

Today's decision represents a significant victory for the plaintiffs and their attorneys. “We are thrilled today with the victory today, in the Third Circuit, reversing the District Court’s decision dismissing constitutional challenges to 2257 and 2257a,” said Murray. “We’re excited the Third Circuit agreed the First and Fourth Amendment claims are worthy and we’re looking forward to returning to District Court, where we’ll be in a position to put on evidence to demonstrate the constitutional infirmities of this burdensome statutory scheme.

“This represents a great victory for free speech rights and rights of privacy under the Fourth Amendment,” Murray added.

“FSC would like to thank our attorneys Mike Murray and Lorraine Baumgardner for their incredible work on this case thus far,” said FSC Executive Director Diane Duke. “This decision is critical in three ways—it was unanimous, it supports the arguments that FSC has made all along and it supports the 4th amendment question included in our most recent challenge to 2257. This is a very important next step in our work to eliminate the burden from the adult industry of this onerous regulation.”

FSC has challenged 2257 regulations on behalf of the adult industry since 2005, when the regulations first came into effect.

The 3rd Circuit ruling can be read here.