Judge puts Arizona 'revenge porn' law on hold

AP News
|
Posted: Nov 26, 2014 7:53 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday put a new Arizona law against "revenge porn" on hold after civil rights groups sued over constitutional grounds.

The order from U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton came as part of an agreement between the Arizona attorney general's office and the groups that sued. The order blocks enforcement of the law to allow the Legislature time to work on changes.

Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, crafted the bill to bar "revenge porn" from being posted online by jilted lovers.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued in September, saying the law is so broadly written it makes anyone distributing or displaying a nude image without explicit permission guilty of a felony. The group said that violates the 1st Amendment.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix on behalf of several bookstores and publishing associations, the owner of the Village Voice and 12 other alternative newsweeklies nationwide, and the National Press Photographers Association.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2515 into law in April after it unanimously passed the Senate and House. Mesnard said Wednesday he'll work on changes but isn't sure they'll satisfy the ACLU.

"Given my willingness to do that, it made sense to say, well let's see if we can get an agreement to hold off on the bill for now and make some changes in the next session," Mesnard said. "We may end up right back where we are now because some of the issues the ACLU brought up, I don't think they'll ever be satisfied."

David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition, whose members include publishers, librarians and booksellers, said the current law would have a chilling effect on free speech.

"The range of material that this law could bring in was hugely overbroad, it went far beyond anything you would think of as sort of malicious invasion of privacy." Horowitz said.

The court order put the ACLU's request for a preliminary injunction on hold until the Legislature passes and the governor signs a new version of the bill, or until the Legislature adjourns in late spring.

If no new version is passed, Horowitz said the groups objecting to the law will move to get it blocked permanently.

___

Follow Bob Christie at http://twitter.com/APChristie