Woodhull Defends Free Speech In Latest Court Battle Over FOSTA Censorship
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — January 11, 2023 — Washington, DC
Washington, D.C. – January 11, 2023. Today, the Woodhull Foundation again argued against the constitutionality of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. This is the organization’s latest salvo in a four-year free speech battle.
“This dangerous, unconstitutional law has accomplished nothing except for having a chilling effect on freedom of speech,” says Ricci Joy Levy, President & CEO of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. “Our legal team, including Bob Corn-Revere and Larry Walters, have argued forcefully against the constitutionality of the legislation, and we are hopeful that the DC Circuit will again rule in favor of Woodhull and the other plaintiffs, as it did in our first appeal on the standing issue.”
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 the protections that essentially said the platforms weren’t liable for what was posted on them. Free speech and online free expression advocates, along with sex worker rights groups, have protested the law, citing the 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.
“Today’s hearing represents the first opportunity for a Circuit Court to consider the constitutionality of FOSTA,” says Lawrence Walters, one of the attorneys representing Woodhull in the suit. “We believe that FOSTA’s Section 230 exemption sets a dangerous precedent for government censorship of other types of disfavored speech and should be enjoined as unconstitutional.”
The DC Circuit’s ruling is expected in the coming months.
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 the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Daphne Keller, Stanford Cyber Policy Center
ABOUT WOODHULL v THE UNITED STATES
Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al vs. The United States of America 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