The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is challenging the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) because it “chills sexual speech and harms sex workers.” After a federal district court judge ruled the group didn’t have standing to challenge the law in court, the Foundation appealed the ruling. The IFS brief supports the Foundation’s appeal.
Courts have long recognized “the danger that citizens will not risk speaking in the face of ambiguous or merely possible governmental action,” the brief explains. As a result, they have historically relaxed the traditional rules of standing in order to allow Americans to challenge such laws in court.
“This is precisely the kind of case for which First Amendment standing doctrine was developed,” the Institute’s brief states. “It is a pre-enforcement challenge to a statute of startling scope and uncertain meaning, directly regulating a major frontier of First Amendment-protected activity. And Congress chose to decentralize its enforcement, permitting numerous parties – including private litigants and state attorneys general – to bring lawsuits against alleged violators.”