Court Interprets Explicit Materials Law for Federal Judge

OCTOBER 21, 2004 - Posted at 1:59 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state Supreme Court adopted a strict interpretation of a disputed Arkansas law today that restricts the display and sale of explicit materials.

The high court issued its interpretation to help a federal judge handle a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a law intended to regulate the display of sexually explicit materials harmful to minors.

The law had been enforced because its constitutionality was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and state bookstore associations.

The high court determined that the law is intended to protect all children under 17, and that materials that fall under the law must be obstructed from a minor's view and physically segregated.

The court also interpreted the law to mean that a bookseller must know that a minor is viewing harmful material and deliberately turn a blind eye before sellers are subject to prosecution under a provision prohibiting sellers from allowing a minor to view harmful material.

The court noted that it remains for the federal court to ultimately determine whether such a requirement violates the First Amendment rights of booksellers, librarians and other adult customers.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)