Bill Allowing Lawsuits for Youth Viewing Porn Advances

The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee voted 3-0 Thursday to move forward legislation that launches pornographers into the realm of civil lawsuits.

SB 185 – Cause of Action for Minors Injured by Pornography, sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler (Republican – Woods Cross), amends the Judicial Code to provide for a cause of action for minors injured by pornography. Excluded are internet service providers, online search engines, and satellite television providers. The bill protects pornographers from liability if they in include a warning with the content that pornography can be dangerous and also make a good faith effort to verify that minors aren’t viewing pornographic content.

“This bill is not telling any purveyor of pornography that they can’t distribute their product in Utah. We’re not telling any consumer that you can’t consume a pornographic product in Utah,” said Weiler. “But what we’re saying is if someone is damaged by your product that they could take their best shot in court and have to meet every evidentiary standard that already exists and have to show damages and whatnot. This is more of a product liability.”

Weiler says an unequivocal no to those who claim it’s a First Amendment violation. “I wouldn’t be running the bill if it was. Whenever you talk about the First Amendment, you’re talking about someone who is making the speech and someone who is receiving the speech. If the government is standing in-between the person making the speech and the person receiving the speech and trying to block that speech, that’s usually what you look for in a First Amendment violation. That’s not what is going on here,” said Weiler.

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, praised Weiler for moving forward with his anti-pornography efforts. “Creating a way to hold people accountable for the harm that’s done to children. It can’t be better than that,” concluded Ruzicka.

Senator Luz Escamilla (Democrat – Salt Lake City) also spoke in favor of the bill, emphasizing the importance of protecting children. “I do believe there is a role in government in protecting children. There are industries that are maybe even predatory in the way they are framing things so children are more impacted. They’re brains are still developing. It can be disproportionately impactful in a negative way,” said Escamilla. “This bill has nothing to do with adults making choices in their personal lives. I don’t know if that would be something I could support because adults should be able to do whatever they want. But when it comes to children, we should be advocates of protecting them and creating a safe environment for them to live and grow.”

SB 185 now heads to the full Senate for its consideration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *