In what appears to be a routine case of the minority imposing rules upon the majority, the Alabama legislature may soon find itself before the United States Supreme Court over a law passed almost a decade ago.
The law in question is the anti-sex toy bill (labeled as anti-obscenity), passed in 1998. Since the law took effect, the state has been to court on several occasions to defend its position. The latest verdict was handed down on February 14, 2007. Sherri Williams, an Alabama retailer, is initiator of those suits which question the constitutionality of the law.
Two of the last three times the case had been heard, she has won on behalf of "marital aid" sellers. Each time however, the state, through the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the victories.
Many Alabama residents feel that the law is unconstitutional, and violates their fundamental rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Soon, the Supreme Court may be hearing the case to determine if it is indeed unconstitutional, and newly released studies on the effects of the law on Alabama residents will figure into its decision. The studies, while not the usual evidence used in cases of the constitutionality of a law, do indeed show how the law has contributed to the loss of life and the pursuit of happiness.
The Center for the Liberation of Independent Thought (C.L.I.T.) has just finished its nine year study of the problems faced by Alabama residents. Harry Masters, director of C.L.I.T., was quoted as saying, "While this is a new type of study, we are confident that our results will show people how the government ignores the general public."
In Alabama, one can buy almost any type of weapon over the counter. Since the law took effect, gun sales have increased 42% annually to just over one hundred million sales in 2006. But gun sales aren't the only things being affected.
The study has concluded that violent crime is 78% more likely by people who don't own sex toys. Also, suicide is 98% more likely in women who don't own them, and 93.7% in men. The annual divorce rate in Alabama has jumped from 55,000 in 1998 to 632,000 in 2006. Scientists who conducted the study have some theories.
"You see, many marriages aren't sexually active or pleasing enough," said lead scientist, Holly Anagrams. "The only options available in Alabama are infidelity, suicide, or divorce. Since gun sales are at an all time high, divorce is the most viable option."
"Actually," said Ben Dover, a Huntsville psychiatrist, "Most of the rise in violent crime is the fact that spouses are catching their partners in compromising positions. Many think it's mainly men, but 53.7% are women who are sexually frustrated and catch their husbands screwing their secretaries."
An Alabama lawmaker talked with the this reporter on condition that his name be withheld had this to say. "This anti-obscenity law is no different than the ones passed in Texas and Georgia. We, as lawmakers, must see to the morality of our constituents."
Jack Mehoff, a Montgomery business owner, said, "I hope this ban ends soon. I've had to sneak over state lines to purchase some of these items. My wife had been giving me funny looks, like she wanted to kill me, for several weeks before I went and smuggled them in. To be honest, those items probably saved my marriage, if not my life."
That sentiment was shared, if not verbatim, by over 900 of the 1000 people (both men and women) interviewed in various Alabama counties. Many people also told about how they'd had to resort to using items which weren't expressly made for relieving stress. They also told of how many had been injured by these improvised devices and had to be rushed to the emergency room.
Lawyers for the plaintiff were less than pleased when their client's victories were turned over.
The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the ban as constitutional saying, "the state's interest in preserving and promoting public morality provides a rational basis for the challenged statute."
Senator Jeff Session (R-AL) said in a recent press conference, "It is the job of the state to protect people from themselves. If we allow people to use these toys in their homes, it's only a matter of time before they're using them in public. If that happens, we'll have anarchy in the streets, not to mention the offenses that will be committed against God fearing Christians."
Sherri Williams has hired First Amendment rights attorney Paul Cambria to help her in her next appeal. Also joining in the appeal petition are the Free Speech Coalition and the First Amendment Lawyers Association.
Only time will tell, but many in Alabama are frustrated and in need of release. If the ban isn't lifted soon, many people may start moving to less moral states such as Florida, California, or Utah.