Legal Battles Cross Party Lines

LAS VEGAS - Despite the Democratic sweep of the November elections, which pushed right-wing Republicans into the congressional minority, the adult industry faces a continuing threat from the government. "We’re never out of the woods, because both parties like to use the adult industry as a whipping boy, just one of them a little less," warned Larry Walters, the moderator of the "War on Porn" panel featuring First Amendment attorneys Clyde DeWitt, Greg Piccionelli, Jennifer Kinsley, and Reed Lee.

DeWitt, a veteran adult industry lawyer, noted that a number of laws that adult companies find contentious were drafted and enacted by a Democratic-led Congresses.

Piccionelli suggested that the upcoming presidential election was the best opportunity for the adult entertainment industry to make its mark on future legislation. "You are more influential than you probably realize," he said. "You have the ability to influence the next presidential election and, thus, the ability to influence the nature of the Supreme Court for years to come."

The panelists provided an overview of the current legal battles—specifically the legality of Child Online Protection Act, 2257, and the Extreme Associates federal obscenity case—that will set the tone of the future, and they encouraged increased participation in the Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry trade group that backs legal fights against legislation that negatively affects the industry.

Acknowledging that the American Civil Liberties Union’s successful challenge of the constitutionality of COPA has placed the law on the backburner, DeWitt suggested that adult companies still follow the letter of that particular law as a protection in case a minor somehow does access adult entertainment. "That way, you can say that you’ve done what the United States Congress has suggested, and that will help your defense."

Kinsley, who represents Extreme Associates, provided an update of its obscenity case, which isn’t expected to go to court this calendar year. "That means we’ll probably outlast the Bush administration, and when we started this case, I remember saying that if we outlast the Bush administration, we’ll win."