New Jersey cannot enforce a new human-trafficking law that opponents say would criminalize the indirect publication of sex ads depicting minors, a federal judge ruled. In a federal complaint filed June 26, the Internet Archive claimed that New Jersey’s Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act “would impose an intolerable burden on free speech.” Village Voice Media’s Backpage.com LLC movedfor a preliminary injunction the same day, and the two suits were later consolidated.
The complaints contend that New Jersey’s law to combat online ads for underage sex workers, effectively coerces censorship by making it a first-degree offense to even “indirectly” cause to be published, disseminated or displayed any ad containing a “depiction of a minor” and any “explicit or even an ‘implicit’ offer” of sex for “something of value.”
U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh enjoined the state from enforcing the act, finding “a potential for extraordinary harm and a serious chill upon protected speech.”
Learn more at Rose Bouboushian’s Courthouse News Service article: N.J. Sex Trafficking Law Trips on Speech Grounds.