Utah PTA and Legislators File Amicus in FSC v. Shurtleff
By: Layne Winklebleck (Free Speech Coalition)
Salt Lake City, UT – Utah’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and 37 state legislators have filed an application of Amici Curiae (a request to provide a friend-of-the-court brief) against the Free Speech Coalition’s (FSC) challenge to the Utah Child Protection Registry (CPR). The PTA Amicus brief was prepared pro-bono by right-wing Televangelist Pat Robertson’s non-profit law firm, the Washington, D.C.-based American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ).
The Amicus brief is in response to FSC’s motion in United States District Court in Utah seeking a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the CPR. The CPR allows parents and others to register email addresses to which minors have "access," and then prohibits emails that advertise "harmful matter," or products or services minors cannot purchase, from being sent to those addresses. E-mailers can pay a private company to "scrub" their lists at a cost of 1/2 cent for every name on their list. The private company is Unspam, a software developer that has aggressively pushed the technology that Utah (and potentially other states, including Michigan) uses in its “child protection registry.”
“The Child Protection Registry is a simple, free, common sense measure to keep out messages that are inappropriate for children,” claimed Carmen Snow, President of the Utah PTA. “Parents and teachers across the state are committed to stop this attempt by the adult industry to invade our homes and schools.”
“Protecting the right of parents to raise their children as they see fit is not a partisan issue,” insisted President of the Senate John Valentine. “Utah’s parents have the right to declare their homes off-limits to pornographic solicitations, and the legislature is committed to ensuring they have tools like the Child Protection Registry to do so.”
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right of individuals to keep material they find objectionable out of their homes,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, oversimplifying the situation. “The claim by the pornography industry that they have the right to send their offensive material whenever, however, and to whomever they choose flies in the face of well-established jurisprudence.”
As might be expected, there was a lot of bashing of the adult industry by the Utah Media Relations director in the press release announcing the Amicus. FSC was referred to as the “so-called” Free Speech Coalition. Also, there was no mention in the press release of the glaring problems with Utah’s flawed CPR, not the least of which is that it conflicts directly with the federal CAN-SPAM Act, enacted by Congress in 2003 to regulate and standardize email marketing in the U.S. so that legislation to combat spam in different states does not create conflicting standards for legitimate e-mailers.
A group of mainstream marketing organizations and advertising trade associations earlier this year entered the fray by asking to submit Amicus briefs in support of FSC’s challenge, including the E-mail Sender and Provider Coalition, the American Advertising Federation, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology. The organizations state they are concerned that the registry is already having an adverse impact on their members.