AUSTIN (KXAN) — The interim Attorney General of Texas, Angela Colmenero, issued a response to a lawsuit brought by a coalition of adult content producers over a new law that would require users of adult websites to transmit their legal identification to those websites.
That lawsuit, filed by the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), claims that the method would be insufficient in preventing minors from accessing pornographic materials and would present a security risk to adult users. The law also requires adult websites to post “health and safety” messages on their websites.
Colmenero’s lengthy response, in excess of a 20-page limit, makes counterarguments to some of FSC’s claims.
What’s in the response
The key counterargument by Colmenero is that the law, HB 1181, does not violate constitutional rights because the material is obscene, and some of the plaintiffs are foreign companies.
It also argues that Texas has an interest in protecting children from online pornography that outweighs any material cost to FSC and the other plaintiffs. This appears to be a more animating factor for Colmenero, as it comprises the majority of the response’s introduction.
“Porn is absolutely terrible for our kids,” Colmenero writes, “They are “particularly susceptible” to porn because their brains are underdeveloped. Our kids may be more likely to emulate what they see in porn, even if it involves violence or coercion.”
However, the reasoning behind a law does not solely shield it from legal action.
FSC, in its motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of HB 1181, must show its lawsuit has the following:
- a substantial likelihood of success on the merits;
- a substantial threat that plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted;
- that the threatened injury outweighs any damage that the injunction might cause the
- that the injunction will not disserve the public interest.
For most of the points, Colmenero argues that the law is constitutional because it affects obscene speech, the speech of foreign entities and commercial speech, all of which are held to different standards compared to private citizens. She also states that the lawsuit is unlikely to succeed on 8th or 14th Amendment grounds.
“This is a First Amendment case, and Plaintiffs cannot make it,” Colmenero writes.
A hearing on FSC’s motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for a Western District of Texas federal courtroom Wednesday.