Michigan & Arkansas suspend “hide the smut” enforcement

Free Press

An article in the Detroit News reports that Michigan’s prosecutors have agreed not to enforce the provisions of a new law which requires books and magazines to be blocked from the view of minors if they happen to contain sexually explicit material “harmful to” them inside. An article on Newsarama indicates that the US District Court has instructed prosecutors in Arkansas not to enforce a similar law being challenged in that state.

But don’t pop the cork on the champagne yet.

Neither law hast been repealed. In Michigan this is just the prosecutors agreeing not to use it, and in Arkansas the court telling them not to. Meanwhile the lawsuits challenging their constitutionality are still pending. It’s an encouraging sign, because it shows some reluctance on the Michigan prosecutors’ part to be named as codefendants in an actual test case, and it’s a clue how the court is inclined to rule in the Arkansas case. But if either court upholds either law, you can be sure some of these prosecutors will add it to their arsenals for later use.

I suspect the courts will pick apart the most illogical and poorly-written parts of the laws (such as the Michigan law’s requirement to restrict covers based solely on the hidden contents of the book), and the rest will stand, as a slightly less dangerous weapon… but a weapon nonetheless.

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