Will Supreme Court Rule on Dildos?

1/05  Alabama - Alabama could soon find itself at the forefront of yet another federal debate on the U.S. Constitution. For six years, as legal challenges ricocheted through the courts, Alabama police have been prevented from enforcing a statewide ban on the sale of adult toys.

Late December, plaintiffs began their final challenge. Mike Fees, the attorney for store owner Sherri Williams, said he has filed a writ of certiorari to take his client's case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court receives thousands of requests each year and grants reviews of only a minute percentage.

Fees said he should know by the third week of February if the Supreme Court will accept his case. If not, after six years of legal wrangling, the ban would stand.

In Alabama, the legal contest began in 1998 when the Legislature passed a wide-ranging anti-obscenity law that prohibited some nude dancing, certain X-rated videos and the sale of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs."

Williams, who owns Pleasures stores in Decatur and Huntsville, and a woman who sold sexual aids at home parties soon filed suit. Twice, the plaintiffs won their cases in trials. Both times, the office of the Alabama attorney general won on appeal.

The latest ruling came last summer when the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state law, ruling that the U.S. Constitution doesn't include a right to sexual privacy. Fees hopes to contend before a national audience that the Constitution grants all citizens "a right of privacy in their intimate relationships."

If the Supreme Court hears the case, Fees has said, a ruling would likely have implications for six other states where the sale of sex toys is illegal. They are Texas, Nebraska, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Virginia.

Under the state ban, possession or use would not be restricted. But the sale of certain adult toys could be met with a $10,000 fine and a year in jail.

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