Last edited: February 22, 2005

Supreme Court Declines to Review Ban on Sale of Sex Toys

The Advocate, February 23, 2005

The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to review the constitutionality of a state law banning the sale of sex toys, rejecting an appeal that said consumers have a right to sexual privacy. Without comment, justices let stand a lower court ruling that said Alabama had a right to police the sale of devices that can be sexually stimulating.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the challenge on behalf of merchants and users seeking to overturn the 1998 state law. They say the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized gay sex on privacy grounds, protects sex toy users from unwarranted state intrusion in their homes. “The sexual devices covered by the statute have many recognized beneficial uses and are used by consenting adults in deeply private acts that are beyond the reach of government regulation,” argues the filing on behalf of Sherri Williams, an adult-novelty retailer, and seven other women and two men.

A divided three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. circuit court of appeals disagreed. It said in a ruling last July that siding with the sex toy merchants could open the door to the legalization of undesirable sexual behavior such as prostitution. “If the people of Alabama in time decide that prohibition on sex toys is misguided or ineffective or just plain silly, they can repeal the law and be finished with the matter,” the court said.

The state law bans only the sale of sex toys, not their possession, and it doesn’t regulate such items as condoms or virility drugs. Residents also may lawfully purchase sex toys out of state for use in Alabama or use them if the devices have other recognized medical or therapeutic uses. (AP)

[Home] [News] [USA]