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Woodhull Files New Brief Challenging Constitutionality of FOSTA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — September 7, 2022 — Washington, DC

Woodhull Freedom Foundation, the national advocacy organization for sexual rights, has filed an appellate brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The brief is the latest in Woodhull’s four year legal battle to have 2018’s FOSTA legislation declared unconstitutional. Woodhull is joined by Human Rights Watch, the Internet Archive, Alex Andrews, and Eric Koszyk in mounting the appeal.

“This appeal gives us a chance to directly challenge the constitutionality of the FOSTA in a court that has previously affirmed us,” says Ricci Joy Levy, President of Woodhull Freedom Foundation. “FOSTA is brutal, unconstitutional law that continues to destroy lives in its effort to silence sex workers. This is a long battle, but the stakes are enormous. We look forward to making our case before the DC Circuit.”

The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in 2018. The law created an exemption to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for both criminal and civil complaints involving the promotion or facilitation of prostitution. Free speech and internet rights advocates and sex worker rights groups have all protested the law, which has since resulted in widespread censorship of sex-related speech.

Woodhull has been fighting the law since 2018, filing a federal lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction immediately following the law’s passage. The US government initially contested Woodhull’s standing, but in 2020, the Court of Appeals affirmed Woodhull’s right to bring the challenge. 

“The DC Circuit’s de novo review will allow it to take a fresh look at the constitutional issues raised by FOSTA,” says Lawrence Walters, one of the attorneys representing Woodhull in the suit. “We have previously won in the DC Circuit, and are confident in the strength of our appeal. FOSTA’s Section 230 exemption sets a dangerous precedent for government censorship of other types of disfavored speech.”

Woodhull is represented by:
Bob Corn-Revere, of Davis Wright Tremaine
Lawrence G. Walters, of Walters Law Group
Aaron Mackey, Corynne McSherry, and David Greene of Electronic Frontier Foundation
Daphne Keller, Stanford Cyber Law Center


Woodhull v. The United States challenges the constitutionality of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (“FOSTA”), under the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution.


Established in February 2003, The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted to education and public advocacy in support of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. Our work builds on the affirmations of individual rights contained in the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Read the appeal here. Read more about the lawsuit here.


Media Contact

Ricci Levy
President & CEO
[email protected]

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