AUSTIN (KXAN) — Senior U.S. District Court Judge David Alan Ezra issued an order Thursday in a lawsuit against a Texas law that would require pornographic websites to collect users’ identification and post “health warnings” on the websites.
The lawsuit brought by a trade association, the Free Speech Coalition, argues that House Bill 1181 violates the U.S. Constitution and would not effectively prevent minors from accessing pornography.
The order grants a preliminary injunction, preventing enforcement of the law by Interim Texas Attorney General Angela Colmenero. She has appealed the order to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ezra states that Colmenero’s “core” defense of HB 1181 would require a change in precedent by the U.S. Supreme Court and suggests that Colmenero may “certainly attempt a challenge.”
“But it cannot argue that it is likely to succeed on the merits as they currently stand based upon the mere possibility of a change in precedent,” said Ezra in the order. “Nor can Defendant argue that the status quo is maintained at the district court level by disregarding Supreme Court precedent. The status quo has been—and still is today—that content filtering is a narrower alternative than age verification.”
“The Court agrees that the state has a legitimate goal in protecting children from sexually explicit material online,” said Ezra in the order. “But that goal, however crucial, does not negate this Court’s burden to ensure that the laws passed in its pursuit comport with established First Amendment doctrine. There are viable and constitutional means to achieve Texas’s goal, and nothing in this order prevents the state from pursuing those means.”