A judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee [official website] ruled Friday that a Tennessee law [text, PDF] that restricts online sex advertising is unconstitutional. The law came in response to concerns of human trafficking in Tennessee and created criminal penalties for advertising commercial sex acts. Despite acknowledging that the state has an interest in preventing human trafficking and sex slavery, Judge John Nixon found the law violated free speech [Tennessean report] by being overbroad. The ruling temporarily restrained enforcement of the law. It is unclear whether the state plans to appeal.
Human trafficking has long been a concern in the US. In November the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] joined a challenge [JURIST report] to Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act [campaign website]. In September President Barack Obama signed [JURIST report] an executive order strengthening the federal government's ability to protect against human trafficking. In July the largest human trafficking case in US history, brought [JURIST report] in 2010, was dismissed [JURIST report].