Court strikes down state law aimed to combat sex slave trade
U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Cavanaugh ruled Friday that a New Jersey law aimed at fighting the sexual trafficking of minors conflicts with federal law and likely violates the First Amendment.
His decision indefinitely stalls a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie this spring that penalizes anyone who knowingly publishes or disseminates any ad for a commercial sex act that includes the depiction of a minor, the Associated Press reports.
Backpage.com, one of the nation’s top forums for thinly veiled ads that reference prostitution, challenged the law in June on the grounds it was overbroad, according to the AP. While Cavanaugh commended the spirit of the law, he based his ruling on a federal legislation that gives websites and Internet providers a measure of immunity for content provided by third parties.
Although Canavaugh said he was appalled by the specter of child exploitation “as any normal person would be … that’s not why we’re here,” he said, according to the AP. “It is not my job to write the laws; I have to interpret them.”