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A federal judge has tossed out the state’s law barring distribution of sexually explicit pictures to minors over the Internet, saying it violates the First Amendment and Congress’ authority over interstate commerce. U.S. District Judge Patrick Duffy said in his ruling Monday that Internet filters are an equally effective and less restrictive alternative to keep such material from minors. The challenge was brought by booksellers and publishers, some of whom operate Web sites with material on topics like obstetrics, sexual health, visual art and poetry. They argued the law would prevent adults from access to constitutionally protected material. The Internet statute was passed four years ago as an amendment to the state’s existing law prohibiting the distribution of harmful materials to minors. No cases have been prosecuted under the new provision. Similar laws have been thrown out in six other states, said Michael Bamberg, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs. State Attorney General Henry McMaster said his office will review the ruling to decide if the state will appeal. “We don’t think the law as written violates the Constitution or anybody’s constitutional rights,” he said. “We think it’s important in today’s society that law enforcement take a strong view on obscenity aimed at children.” Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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