DC Circuit Upholds FOSTA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — July 7, 2023 — Washington, DC
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) in a decision released today.
Although the Court did not issue the constitutional ruling we sought, it held that the law must be interpreted narrowly in order to avoid “grave constitutional questions.” By imposing the interpretive discipline Congress lacked, the Court ruled out many of the broader applications of FOSTA that caused us to challenge it.
Specifically, it held that FOSTA “does not proscribe facilitating prostitution more generally, which could extend to speech arguing for the legalization of prostitution or that discusses, educates, or informs about prostitution.” It also clarified that the law “does not reach the intent to engage in general advocacy about prostitution or to give advice to sex workers generally to protect them from abuse. Nor would it cover the intent to preserve for historical purposes webpages that discuss prostitution.”
We are continuing to review the decision for its full implications and evaluating our options going forward.
Woodhull is represented by:
Bob Corn-Revere, of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE)
Lawrence G. Walters, of Walters Law Group,
Aaron Mackey, Corynne McSherry, and David Greene of Electronic Frontier Foundation
Daphne Keller, Stanford Cyber Law Center
Read the decision here.
ABOUT WOODHULL v THE UNITED STATES
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 supporting 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.