A federal judge crucified the sheriff for the nation’s second-most populous county Friday, ordering Illinois, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart to back off on its attacks on Backpage.com’s sex ads—attacks that could soon put the classifieds portal out of business.

Thomas Dart

In a case testing the First Amendment and federal laws protecting Web operators for the speech of their users, Backpage sued Dart after it coerced Visa and Mastercard to refrain from doing business with the classifieds portal. Dart labeled the company a “sex trafficking industry profiteer” (PDF) because of its adult ads.
Backpage claimed in a Tuesday lawsuit (PDF) that Dart’s actions amount to “an informal extralegal prior restraint of speech.”
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