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Statute Criminalizing Sending Harmful Materials to Juveniles Held Constitutional

By FindLaw Staff on April 15, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

American Booksellers Found. for Free Expression v. Strickland, No. 07-4375 involved a plaintiffs's suit claiming that Ohio Revised Code section 2907.31(D)(1), that criminalizes sending juveniles material that is harmful to them, is unconstitutional under the First Amendment and Commerce Clause. 

As the Ohio Supreme Court held: "Scope of section 2907.31(D) is limited to electronic communications that can be personally directed, because otherwise the sender of matter harmful to juveniles cannot know or have reason to believe that a particular recipient is a juvenile."  The court went on to hold that a person who posts harmful material to juveniles on generally accessible websites and in public chat rooms does not violate the section because such postings do not allow that person to prevent a particular recipient from receiving the information.

Thus, in holding that the statute does not violate the First Amendment or the Commerce Clause as the scope of the statute is limited to personally directed electronic communications, district court's entry of judgment in favor of the plaintiffs is reversed and permanent injunction enjoining enforcement of the statute is vacated. 

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