By: Joe Nicholson
Display of sexual publications a pivotal issue
NEW YORK CITY newsstand vendors have sued to block new laws that increase newsstand fees fivefold to at least $2,500 a year, limit sales of sexually explicit publications and give city officials the right to revoke newsstand permits.
“This law would deny citizens their choice of publications in the most convenient place possible,” said attorney Andrew Celli, who represents five newsstand vendors.
Mayor Giuliani, on the other hand, has described the new laws as part of an effort to improve the quality of life by ensuring sufficient sidewalk space and ridding residential neighborhoods of porno magazines. The limits on sexually explicit materials does not apply in nonresidential neighborhoods with no schools.
The dispute does not involve obscene publications, which courts have defined as material with no redeeming social value. Rather, the new laws limit softer core publications that are often referred to as pornographic or sexually explicit.
A city lawyer who is handling the case, Gabriel Taussig, said, “We clearly do not believe these laws affect anybody’s ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.”
The new laws are part of broad efforts to rid neighborhood shops of sexually explicit publications and require neater streets.
Newsstand fees have been increased from $538 to a range of $2,500 to $5,000. They allow newsstand operators to apply for lower fees if they can prove economic hardship.
The vendors’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop the city from proceeding was expected to be granted or denied at a federal court hearing on May 18.
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