Jason Pier Today, a Philadelphia-based federal judge issued an order (PDF) rejecting a First Amendment challenge to the constitutionality of a pair of laws that require creators of sexually explicit media to maintain records certifying that those depicted in their works are 18 or older.

These regulations were originally passed by Congress to combat child p**nography. Among the arguments raised by the challengers—who included both p**n producers and sex educators—was that the plain language of these statutory recordkeeping requirements unfairly exposes ordinary consenting adults to criminal liability if they fail to maintain meticulous records.

The challengers alleged that risk occurs every time adults use a cell phone to send a sexually explicit image or share homemade sexual images via a date-facilitating website or social network.

These opponents reasoned that because the recordkeeping statutes could theoretically apply to innocent sexters and hookup-hungry social networkers, the laws were “facially overbroad.” In non-legalese, they viewed these laws (as currently written) to be unconstitutional because they criminalize harmless conduct that the laws were not supposed to target. In support of these arguments, the challengers relied on the expert testimony of two psychology academics who testified during an eight-day bench trial last month about the prevalence of sexting among responsible, mentally stable adults.     

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