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SCOTUS Denies Stay of TX Porn Age-Verification Law

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court | Image by Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States has reaffirmed Texas’ age-verification legislation concerning access to online pornography.

An order issued by the Court on Tuesday rejected an emergency appeal from the Free Speech Coalition representing various entities within the adult entertainment industry, solidifying the enforcement of House Bill 1181.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, HB 1181, passed by the Texas legislature, requires pornographic websites to adopt “reasonable” age-verification measures to ensure users accessing adult content are 18 years or older. This legislation represents a significant step in addressing concerns surrounding minors’ exposure to explicit material on the internet.

In November of 2023, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton effectively defended Texas’ authority to uphold HB 1181 amid legal disputes raised by the pornography sector. Last March he attained a legal victory, affirming that the state’s age verification mandate does not infringe upon First Amendment liberties, countering assertions previously made by pornographic entities opposed to the verification mandate.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court order came in response to an emergency appeal made by the Free Speech Coalition to the Supreme Court after a lower court upheld the validity of HB 1181.

The implications of this decision are far-reaching, impacting both the operations of pornographic websites and the protection of minors accessing online content. While some platforms, like PornHub, responded to the legislation by blocking access to their sites in Texas entirely, others, such as Multi Media LLC, which operates the site Chaturbate, eventually opted to comply with the law.

Paxton applauded the decision of Chaturbate to accept and implement an age verification process for all Texas citizens, bringing the company into compliance with HB 1181.

“Other pornography companies should follow this example and willingly choose to do the right thing and abide by the law,” Paxton said in a news release.

As part of a settlement agreement with the state of Texas, Multi Media LLC agreed to pay a substantial fine of $675,000 for previously failing to implement adequate age verification measures on its platform.

Paxton lauded the Supreme Court’s decision as a crucial step in safeguarding children from exposure to explicit and adult-only online material.

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