Woodhull Files Appeal Challenging the Constitutionality of FOSTA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — April 25, 2022 — Washington, DC
(WASHINGTON, DC / April 25, 2022) Woodhull Freedom Foundation, announced it has filed an appeal in its suit challenging the constitutionality of FOSTA, the controversial anti-trafficking law which devastated the sex worker community and damaged free speech more broadly. Woodhull is joined by Human Rights Watch, the Internet Archive, Alex Andrews, and Eric Koszyk in mounting the appeal.
“We’re in the fight for the long haul,” says Ricci Joy Levy, Executive Director of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. “In the hours after its passage, we saw the dramatic chilling effect FOSTA would have on legally protected speech, as platforms, forums and resources used sex workers and others were taken offline. In the years since, through both the data and lived experiences, we’ve seen how FOSTA has endangered the lives of sex workers. With this law, the government has encouraged censorship that is otherwise prohibited by the First Amendment.”
FOSTA, alternately referred to as SESTA or SESTA-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.
“FOSTA’s Section 230 exemption sets a dangerous precedent for government censorship of other types of disfavored speech ,” says Lawrence Walters, one of the attorneys representing Woodhull in the suit. “Given the constitutional issues in the case, we knew the trial court’s decision would ultimately be appealed to the DC Circuit, where we won in the last appeal. We are confident in the strength of our appeal, and look forward to the DC Circuit’s de novo review, which will allow it to take a fresh look at the constitutional issues posed by FOSTA.”
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
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 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