The U.S. Supreme Court last week let stand without comment a Wisconsin law that bars actual sex acts on film but permits simulated acts of the same sort – even if viewers can’t distinguish the difference.
Case involved a 1988 law passed in Wisconsin that was challenged by adult book and video store owners who claimed the law was unconstitutionally vague. A lower court agreed with the store owners, but that decision was reversed by the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
The store owners argued that the law would provide the basis for confiscation of books, magazines, films and videos that depict the actual sex act, but are in fact simulations. “If the consumer cannot distinguish legal materials which portray simulated sex from illegal materials portraying actual sex, neither can a law enforcement officer, a prosecutor, a judge or a jury,” the owners claimed.
The Seventh Circuit agreed that the law was confusing, but said new laws “frequently contain ambiguities. If that alone made them unconstitutionally vague, it would be difficult to enact new statutes.”