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Alabama and sex toys, the sequel

Back in February, the Supremes refused to hear a case on the legality of a ban on the sale of sex toys in Alabama. The law prohibited the distribution of ‘any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.’ You could get a year in jail or be fined $10K on a first offense.

The law allowed the sale of vibrators and body massagers that are not specifically designed or marketed to the public as sexual aids. Sales of sexual devices were exempt if they were to be used ‘for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose.’ Ha ha ha ha ha. They’re back in court over this law again.

A federal judge has been asked to strike down a 1998 laws that bans the sale of sex toys in Alabama. If U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith agrees it would be the third time he has declared the ban unconstitutional.

A group of 10 storeowners have been fighting the state since the law was enacted. Michael Fees, the lawyer for the group, argues that the U.S. Supreme Court decision banning the criminalization of gay sex based on privacy issues also protects his clients’ right to buy and sell sex toys.

In 1999, Smith ruled against the law only to have it reversed by the 11th Circuit Court after the state attorney general’s office appealed his decision. In 2002, Smith again ruled against the law, but a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit overturned him. The judges, however, sent the case back to Smith to review some other issues, including whether states have the right to legislate morality.

On the surface, the case may be considered whimsical – banning the sale of inflatable sex dolls, dildos, and playing cards with the pictures of naked porn stars on them, but the court’s reasoning has given civil rights groups cause for alarm. The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the Constitution included a right to sexual privacy that the ban on sex toy sales would violate.

So, can you think of valid law enforcement purposes for a blow-up doll?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding