The Dormant Commerce Clause and State Regulation of the Internet: Are Laws Protecting Minors From Sexual Predators Constitutionally Different Than Those Protecting Minors From Sexually Explicit Materials?

By: Chin Pann

Several states have enacted statutes to protect minors from harmful or obscene materials disseminated over the Internet, as well as from pedophiles seeking to use the Internet to lure them into sexual conduct. State and federal courts have diverged in their analysis of the Dormant Commerce Clause’s impact on state regulation in these areas. While state courts have held that the Dormant Commerce Clause does not invalidate state luring statutes, federal courts have been consistent in finding state dissemination statutes unconstitutional. This iBrief summarizes recent state and federal jurisprudence in this area and concludes that state courts have not been successful in distinguishing state luring statutes from federal case law on state dissemination statutes. Therefore, state courts have prematurely aborted the Dormant Commerce Clause examination.

Cite: 2005 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0008

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