Supreme Court refuses to block Texas age-verification law for pornographic content

The Supreme Court refused to block a Texas law that required pornographic websites to verify a user’s age.

The high court denied Tuesday an emergency appeal filed by the Free Speech Coalition, which is a trade association for the adult entertainment industry. The association asked the justices in an emergency appeal earlier this month to block the law as it appeals it in the high court.

There were no noted dissents in the Supreme Court’s order.

The law requires that websites verify that users in Texas are at least 18 years old before they can access pornographic content on the site. It also requires that websites with pornographic content post warnings about the alleged harms that pornography can cause.

The law, signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) last year, will continue to be in effect as the justices weigh the full appeal from the association.

The law was temporarily blocked in September by U.S. District Judge Alan Ezra, who said that the law violated the First Amendment because it “substantially regulates protected speech, is severely underinclusive, and uses overly restrictive enforcement methods.”

A panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that age-verification ruling from the district court last month. However, the divided panel of judges did uphold the district court’s ruling that the websites could not be forced to post warnings about their content.

The Free Speech Coalition has argued against the Texas law, saying that age-verification laws are “ineffective, unconstitutional and dangerous.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also backed the association’s appeal, saying the Texas law would “improperly burden free speech online.”

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