Obscenity Law in Ohio Targeted by Lawyer; Motion Invokes Ruling on Sodomy

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

Obscenity Law in Ohio Targeted by Lawyer; Motion Invokes Ruling on Sodomy


Byline: Frank J. Murray, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A lawyer who specializes in defending the distribution of sex images, including by Larry Flynt's Hustler magazine, has moved to overturn Ohio's obscenity law on the basis of the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual sodomy.

"Practically all choices made by consenting adults regarding their own sexual practices [are] a matter of personal liberty and thus beyond the reach of state control," H. Louis Sirkin told Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Niehaus in Cincinnati in presenting his view of the Supreme Court's 6-3 June decision in Lawrence v. Texas.

Judge Niehaus reserved decision on Mr. Sirkin's 15-page motion and allowed the trial of Shawn Jenkins of Cincinnati to enter a second day yesterday. Mr. Jenkins was arrested in October 2001, but an earlier trial had been postponed after he arrived at court drunk two days in a row.

Mr. Jenkins faces up to a year in prison on one count of pandering obscenity at his Tip Top Magazines store, where an undercover sheriff's deputy, Sgt. Matt Guy, bought the videotape titled "Maximum Hardcore Extreme, Vol. 7."

Citing what the law calls a "due process right to privacy," Mr. Sirkin noted high court references to bedrooms and sanctity of the home in the sodomy decision and other rulings - including on abortion, contraception and parental rights.

This, he asserted, must include that the right to own obscene material at home includes a right for others to sell such materials. The suit is among the first to reach beyond homosexual issues in using the high court's June 26 decision barring states from criminalizing "sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle."

"[Those rights] have moved out of the marital bedroom and into the public sphere of commercial interactions and private interactions between consenting adults," Mr. Sirkin said, citing Justice Antonin Scalia's analysis that the sodomy decision calls into question state laws against obscenity as well as bigamy, homosexual "marriage," adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication and bestiality. …

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