Court Leaves Ala. Sex Toy Ban Intact
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge to Alabama's ban on the sale of sex toys, ending a nine-year legal battle and sending a warning to store owners to clean off their shelves.
An adult-store owner had asked the justices to throw out the law as an unconstitutional intrusion into the privacy of the bedroom. But the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, leaving intact a lower court ruling that upheld the law.
Sherri Williams, owner of Pleasures stores in Huntsville and Decatur, said she was disappointed, but plans to sue again on First Amendment free speech grounds.
"My motto has been they are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand. I refuse to give up," she said.
Alabama's anti-obscenity law, enacted in 1998, bans the distribution of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for anything of pecuniary value."
The law does not ban the possession of sex toys, and it doesn't regulate other items, including condoms or virility drugs. Residents may legally purchase sex toys out of state for use in Alabama, or they may buy sexual devices in Alabama that have a "bona fide medical" purpose.
Similar laws have been upheld in Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas, but struck down in Louisiana, Kansas and Colorado, said Mark Lopez, a former American Civil Liberties Union attorney in New York who worked on the Alabama case until recently.