SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — Today, in a victory for the rule of law, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announces that U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the State’s requirement that pornography websites and other providers of harmful material to minors verify the ages of those accessing their websites.
Several plaintiffs, such as the Free Speech Coalition, which represents the porn industry, filed the lawsuit in May after the Utah legislature passed SB 287, a bill intended to protect young people from the harmful effects of pornography by requiring “reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of an individual attempting to access the material.” The State then moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
In its ruling, the Court reaffirmed a critical aspect of the separation of governmental powers — a federal court may only decide appropriate cases or controversies and not issue advisory opinions concerning the law. For this reason, the Court held that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because plaintiffs brought their lawsuit against defendants who are not charged with enforcing the law. In other words, there was no proper case or controversy before the Court. This provision of federal court jurisdiction helps to ensure that the judiciary does not inappropriately wade into the policy-making prerogatives of the legislative and executive branches.
General Reyes issued the following statement: “I applaud Judge Stewart’s decision. It is well-reasoned and consistent with other case law denying pre-enforcement challenges against public officials. Regarding the policy at issue, the innocence and safety of our children are paramount and worth protecting ardently. That is what our legislature did in passing S.B. 287, and that is what my office will continue to do when anyone attempts to undermine these reasonable safeguards for our children.”