Love Stuff in Alabama: Supreme Court Rules Morality Can Be Constitutional Basis for Product Bans

150px-Flag_of_Alabama.svgAlabama Supreme Court has joined the debate over morality being the sole basis for legislative restrictions on citizens. The court upheld the state ban on the sale of sex toys purely on the basis that such toys are viewed as immoral. Since Lawrence v. Texas, such morality based laws have been questioned on constitutional grounds. For a prior column, click here.

At issue is Section 13A-12-200.5(4) which prohibits such sales “within 1,000 feet of a church, place of worship, church bookstore, public park, public housing project, daycare center, public or private school, college, recreation center, skating rink, video arcade, public swimming pool, private residence, or any other place frequented by minors.” It would be simpler to just ban it outright rather than pretend a tailored zone restriction when the law includes any residence, church bookstore or place with kids.

The case of 1568 Montgomery Highway, Inc. v. City of Hoover involves a business called Love Stuff in Hoover, Alabama where sex toys are sold to adults.

bolin_thThe Alabama Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the majority can ban such sales as offensive to the majority of the citizenry. Associate Justice Michael F. Bolin wrote “[p]ublic morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity”. It relied on the earlier decisions of the Eleventh Circuit and Fifth Circuit that such laws can be defended as rationally based on morality grounds. The court distinguished the Lawrence case.

The court ruled:

in rejecting Love Stuff’s federal constitutional challenge to [the law], we agree with the interpretation given Lawrence v. Texas by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Post-Lawrence public morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity. As the 11th Circuit pithily and somewhat coarsely stated: `There is nothing `private’ or `consensual’ about the advertising and sale of a dildo’.

The case could make for a fascinating appeal and finally put the question of morality legislation squarely before the Supreme Court. However, Justice Sotomayor would be an uncertainty on the question (as opposed to David Souter who would likely have voted to strike down the law).

Here is the opinion: Alabama decision

87 thoughts on “Love Stuff in Alabama: Supreme Court Rules Morality Can Be Constitutional Basis for Product Bans”

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  2. Gosh Gyges, I wish I could have as “meaningful” a value system as you. You are so worldly and sagacious. I should discontinue posting, as I am a mere simpleton…

  3. Gary,

    Billy’s a unique case, and based on this topic, you’d be right to get the impression that we’re just persecuting him. However, this is his fourth or fifth major incarnation (plus a few minor ones) commenting on this blog.

    Some of them he obviously trolls with (for those who care, I use troll in the original “posting solely to anger people” definition of troll. Think fishing, not bridges.) from the start and some he seems initially to want to engage. All of them end with him ranting, raving and trying to bait people with insults into responding in a like fashion.

    I leave analysis of motivation to others, but the pattern has been established, and this time looks no different. The method is a little different (the obviously sarcastic praise is new as is the Big-foot obsession), but it’s the same basic story arch.

  4. One more thought Gary. You somehow made the connection between molestation in the Church as being on the same level as the abuses at Waco. Maybe you should rethink your postion Gary. In Waco, these “cultist” were stockpiling illegal firearms and explosives. David (cuckoo bird) Koresh was also molesting children and holding them against their will! This is called kidnapping Gary! I think your analogy was just a little off..

  5. This is my last word on the matter. I believe I have shared enough information to substantiate my argument fairly conclusively. If you disagree, so be it..

  6. Gary, read “all” my prior postings. You wll see that these “male priests” are molesting boys, in overflow numbers because they are obviously attracted to them, in large part because they are the “same gender”. They have not been molesting underage girls, because they are the “wrong gender”. My contention is that these men are homosexual in orientaion,(if you had read my prior posts). They are “criminals” because they perpetrate the act of pedophilia, not homosexuality. Their are many homosexuals who do not commit pedophilia, as their are many heterosexuals who do not commit this crime as well. These perpetrators are molesting underage boys because they are homosexual in orientaion, and are attracted to them. Pedophilia is a form of sexual paraphilia/sexual deviance. I am not stating that they are “wrong” because they are homosexual in orientaion, quite the contrary. I am stating that they are repugnant criminals because the have committed the act of pedophilia. Sadly, they are homosexual in orientaion, this of course is not a crime, nor have I articulated that. It is disproportionate and inconceivable to have this many pedophiles in a single demographic(the Catholic Church)unless they were homosexual in orientaion! Gary, I suggest you type in (on your favorite search engine) the correlation between homosexuality in the priesthood and pedophilia or ephibophilia. You will be overwhelmed with the data that is provided. Coincidentally, I am not saying that homosexuality is somehow synoymous with pedophilia. The demographic and statistics are inclusive to the male priests in the Catholic Church. I also bare in mind, as a Catholic myself, that their are many more “good priests” than bad. Sadly, the media only exposes scandal and sensationalism because this is what sells. Seldom do you hear about the “good virtuous priest” who is serving the lepers of Molokai or the street people of “Skid Row”. It dosn’t sell papers or increase television ratings..

  7. Billy:

    I think your emphasis should be on pedophiles, not homosexuals, as the two are not mutually inclusive.
    The problem is not that gay priests are having sex with other gay priests, but rather that they are having it with their underage charges and congregants.

    So the operative attribute is pedophile, not homosexual; the unacceptable target of their affections are children, not consenting adults of the same gender.
    Even if as you say, a majority of the those who they molest are male, it is not the child’s maleness that matters, it is their age and incognizence to intelligently (or legally) consent.

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