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Supreme Court Upholds Texas Porn Site Age Verification Law

Photo from Ian Hutchinson via Unsplash

Supreme Court Upholds Texas Porn Site Age Verification Law

By Movieguide® Contributor

The United States Supreme Court has denied requests to block a new Texas law requiring age verification for users to access pornographic content. The law against underage porn use remains in effect.

A porn advocacy group called the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) requested that the Supreme Court block the Texas law. According to NBC News, “The challengers said the 2023 law violates the Constitution’s First Amendment by requiring anyone using the platforms in question, including adults, to submit personal information.” 

The law requires users to provide age verification information to block children from accessing porn.

“Specifically, the act requires adults to comply with intrusive age verification measures that mandate the submission of personally identifying information over the internet in order to access websites containing sensitive and intimate content,” the FSC argued.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded, saying that the law “simply requires the pornography industry that makes billions of dollars from peddling smut to take commercially reasonable steps to ensure that those who access the material are adults.”

“The Texas law was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in June 2023. The legislation, Texas H.B. 11811, was scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 1, but it was on hold after the lawsuit filed by the Free Speech Coalition (a group that includes Pornhub’s parent company) resulted in a preliminary injunction staying its enforcement,” Variety reported. 

“The law applies to online publishers whose content is more than one-third ‘sexual material harmful to minors’ and requires them to verify the age of all visitors using a government-issued ID or ‘public or private transactional data,’” the outlet added.

However, in March, a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of the law, “overturning a lower court decision that had blocked enforcement of the measure,” The Christian Post reported.

Because of the age identification requirements, Pornhub was disabled in Texas earlier this year.

“My bill created an age verification requirement for online pornography websites in Texas to protect minors from accessing their harmful content,” Texas Senator Angela Paxton said after Pornhub announced it was disabling use in the state.

“After insistent fighting against it, the pornography industry is being forced to comply with the law,” she added.

The Free Speech Coalition plans to continue to fight.

“We look forward to continuing this challenge, and others like it, in the federal courts,” the group said. “The ruling by the Fifth Circuit remains in direct opposition to decades of Supreme Court precedent, and we remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant our petition for certiorari and reaffirm its lengthy line of cases applying strict scrutiny to content-based restrictions on speech like those in the Texas statute we’ve challenged.” 

Movieguide® previously reported on the dangers of pornography:

The Wall Street Journal explains that “younger people’s brains are more wired for pleasure than adults, with higher spikes of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine released in anticipation of enjoyable activities…”

Porn elicits the same brain reactions that drugs produce for a drug addict. Valerie Voon, a psychiatry professor at the University of Cambridge, found that when her team showed porn to young men with compulsive porn habits, their brain scans mirrored the brain scans of drug addicts when shown pictures of drugs.

Her study also found that, for young people, porn caused “greater activity in the reward centers of the brain than the older participants when shown porn.”

This occurs because the “brain’s emotional center develops faster than the part of the brain that controls impulse.” This disparity “helps explain why teens lack the maturity to ‘suppress sexual cravings, thoughts and behaviors elicited by pornographic content,’” a review of research on the subject explained

Because of easy access, 9 in 10 American boys encounter porn before the age of 18, the average age of exposure is 11 and 84 percent of males and 57 percent of females ages 14 to 18 in the United States have been exposed.


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