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Judge Blocks California Law Limiting Publication of Actor's Ages (politico.com) 125

mi writes: IMDb has a reason to rejoice. Politico reports: "A federal judge has barred the State of California from enforcing a new law limiting online publication of actors' ages. Acting in a case brought by online movie information website IMDb, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ruled Wednesday that the California law likely violates the First Amendment and appears poorly tailored to proponents' stated goal of preventing age discrimination in Hollywood. The judge expressed deep skepticism that the law, which he said appeared to apply only to IMDb, would have any effect on discrimination. The judge rejected the state's arguments that the law was a regulation of commercial speech, finding that IMDb was acting as a publisher in posting the birthday and age information online." "It's not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all. And even if restricting publication on this one website could confer some marginal anti-discrimination benefit, there are likely more direct, more effective, and less speech-restrictive ways of achieving the same end," Chhabria wrote in a three-page order.
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Judge Blocks California Law Limiting Publication of Actor's Ages

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  • FTWabria
  • How can the State of California breach the 1st Ammendment. I was under the belief that the US Constitution said what the Federal government could do, and had no effect on the States themselves, which would each have their own constitution.

    • Re:First Ammendment (Score:5, Informative)

      by alexo ( 9335 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @10:57PM (#53915461) Journal

      How can the State of California breach the 1st Ammendment. I was under the belief that the US Constitution said what the Federal government could do, and had no effect on the States themselves, which would each have their own constitution.

      It used to be the case until the 14th amendment extended constitutional protection to all levels of government.

      • Re:First Ammendment (Score:4, Informative)

        by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @11:19PM (#53915543)

        How can the State of California breach the 1st Ammendment. I was under the belief that the US Constitution said what the Federal government could do, and had no effect on the States themselves, which would each have their own constitution.

        It used to be the case until the 14th amendment extended constitutional protection to all levels of government.

        Note that this was not an immediate effect of the 14th amendment. Passed in 1868, but not covering the First Amendment until ruled to do so in 1925.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • How can the State of California breach the 1st Ammendment. I was under the belief that the US Constitution said what the Federal government could do, and had no effect on the States themselves, which would each have their own constitution.

      Saying that the federal government is empowered in these areas, and that in all other areas the states are empowered, does not exempt the states from complying with federal law in those "federal" areas. The states must also honor the rights enumerated in the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution says that all federal law made under the authority of the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and that state courts must abide by it.

      • I stand corrected. Somehow the Supremacy Clause was not applied to the Bill of Rights. Matter of fact that 14th amendment (1868) didn't initially apply to the Bill of Rights much either. It was not until 1925 that the courts ruled that the states were bound by the First Amendment.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
        • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @01:05AM (#53915741) Journal

          Here is why the Supremacy Clause doesn't apply the 1st to states. Note the first word of the first amendment:

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          Under the Supremacy Clause, states can't overrule that - they can't allow CONGRESS to make a law ...

          On the other hand, the author of the Privileges and Immunities Clause 14th amendment, John Bingham, said that the Privileges and Immunities Clause extended the 1st to the states. That was in the late 1850s. Two or three years later, SCOTUS ruled that Bingham was incorrect, his words didn't mean what he said they meant. And so it wasn't until 63 years later, in 1925, that SCOTUS acknowledged what the author of the 14th had told them.

          • by drnb ( 2434720 )
            Thank you for pointing out the obvious. :-)

            Now I will have to ponder whether the 4th amendment with its more general language
            "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
            might be something for which a Supremacy Clause
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Incorporation, in U.S. law, is the process by which American courts have applied portions of the U.S. Bill of Rights to the states. Prior to 1925, the Bill of Rights was held only to apply to the federal government. Under the incorporation doctrine, most provisions of the Bill of Rights now also apply to the state and local governments."
      Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

      Also, The California Constitution also guarantees freedom of expression
      "(a) Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or
      her sentiments on all subjects,

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @11:07PM (#53915501) Journal

      The 14th amendment applies the first to the states. Two different clauses of the 14th are important.

      The 14th amendment includes the following words:
      --
      No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States
      __
      (Privileges or Immunities Clause)

      The guy who wrote those words, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Bingham, said his words mean the first eight amendments apply to the states as well. The 14th says that states are not allowed to violate the first through eigth amendments, according to the guy who wrote the 14th.

      Shortly afterward, in the Slaughterhouse cases, SCOTUS "interpreted" Bingham's words to mean virtually nothing at all, and ruled that they did not mean what Bingham said they mean. (A really stupid ruling, given that Bingham was right there telling them what he meant when he wrote it.)

      Later, SCOTUS realized they did need to apply some of the amendments to the states, but they had already vanished the wording in 14th that did so, by "interpreting" those words in a ridiculous way. SCOTUS doesn't like to reverse itself, so they decided to take a different part of the 14th, the "due process clause", and pretend THAT clause applies the 1st to the states. The plain language doesn't support that interpretation at all, but that's what SCOTUS had to do to avoid reversing their earlier slaughterhouse decision.

      So what we're left with now is the words of the 14th apply the 1st to the states, by the privileges and immunities clause. But because SCOTUS doesn't like to reverse decisions, they pretend the 14th does so via the due process clause. We end up in the right place, via stupid logic.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday February 23, 2017 @06:05AM (#53916271) Homepage Journal

        Can you or someone else explain how the 1st applies to personal information. Like say I tell the bank my personal details so that I can open an account, are they then allowed to publish those details? What about my bank balance, can they publish that? Obviously they wouldn't want to publish those details, customers would abandon them pretty quickly, what I'm asking is if there is any legal protection.

        In the EU such data is heavily protected to preserve privacy. Credit reference agencies, for example, can't reveal certain things that they know but which the law deems irrelevant.

        • > Obviously they wouldn't want to publish those details, customers would abandon them pretty quickly, what I'm asking is if there is any legal protection.

          There *are* some privacy laws. It's generally illegal to pull someone's credit report without permission and a reason to do so. Notably the balance on an existing *loan* account is relevant to a lender when you ask for another loan, so the balances on existing loans does appear on the credit report, which has some legal protections. Some one say the

    • C'mon, this is California. You have no rights, only privileges!
    • Assemblyman Calderon (neophyte 31 yr. old politician, lib/dem) claimed IMDB was exhibiting "commercial speech" and not one of an individual. The judge didn't see it that way. I understand that a stupid, young politician might make such an inane law but what really bothers me is that Jerry Brown (California Governor) actually signed the stupid law without any legal basis. Calderon is the son of a politician and nephew of two others http://www.whittierdailynews.c... [whittierdailynews.com] who pled guilty of corruption. Why he w

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        Hollywood is the one doing the discrimination. He must be whoring for the union.

      • I understand that a stupid, young politician might make such an inane law but what really bothers me is that Jerry Brown (California Governor) actually signed the stupid law without any legal basis.

        Jerry Brown is a piece of shit, and the starry-eyed idiots who supported him apparently forgot every way in which he proved it the first time he was in power. Arnie was actually a better gov because they wouldn't let him do anything big and bad, but they'll follow Moonbeam anywhere.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Ugh, terrible comment. Mostly just an ad-hominem, and of course didn't read the summary, let alone TFA.

        The judge basically said that it wouldn't be very effective at stopping age discrimination in Hollywood, so given the 1st Amendment angle as well it wasn't warranted. The fact that it was "commercial speech" was not really a factor.

  • Cool? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @11:11PM (#53915519)

    I'm a pretty liberal dude - but this age-information-protection thing is the wrong role for any governance to be playing.

    It's an objective, publicly available piece of information. Birth records aren't secret, or in any way protected from public view. Trying to punish websites for listing that among other pertinent details on public figures like actors is just crazy.

    That's not to say age discrimination is an unrealistic thing to fear - but this is exactly the wrong way to combat it, akin to punishing kids spreading rumors of an upcoming fight, rather than any of the participants. It's just bad tactics too - objecting to information only spreads that information further (justly called the Streisand effect).

    I'm struggling just to wrap my head around how stupid an idea this law was, or who would propose it as a valid way to use law.

    Was this some kind of a protest law, or a game of legislative chicken gone wrong?

    Ryan Fenton

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What kind of tool signs their Internet comments.

      • Re: Cool? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ryan Fenton

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        What kind of tool signs their Internet comments.

        Someone who isn't 10 years old and remembers the time of signature files which were appended to every email and Usenet posting.

    • The thing that bothers me most about this is that it was a proposition that was voted on and that it passed. It seemed like an obvious violation of free speech to me.

      From the article and summary it sounds like this is preliminary. I hope the courts continue to block it...

      • Legislation by Proposition or Initiative is a scourge on our Representative Republic and should be prohibited. When the legislature (national or state) proposes a law, the bill goes through debate and legal and financial reviews to determine the impacts and constitutionality. Now these reviews are not perfect but they usually do a decent job of making sure most bad laws don't become law.

        With Proposition, if put forward by a well funded group, they advertise and convince the people the law will be good but
        • by swb ( 14022 )

          You're right that the tyranny of the majority could be a big problem, but these days initiative and referendum seems like it has some real benefits. As a safety override for legislatures which are increasingly incapable of only passing legislation beneficial to the moneyed class or so divided by partisanship they are unable to fix issues which the partisans have stakes in but which the electorate sees as non-partisan.

          I'd put legalizing recreation marijuana in the category of cases where referendums served

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure there is a fight to be had at all. Actors don't face age discrimination so much as they face beauty discrimination, and actors who have to worry about their age probably got to where they are by their looks in the first place. It's hypocritical for them to worry about beauty discrimination only when it's used against them.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's an objective, publicly available piece of information. Birth records aren't secret, or in any way protected from public view.

      If that is the case, why was it such a big deal to see Obama's birth certificate? Was it not a matter of public record?

      Besides, a lot of people don't have birth certificates and don't know their exact age. That's particularly true for immigrants who might be fleeing some place which has lost their birth records, or children whose circumstances at birth are unknown.

      But the more important issue here is privacy. There has to be a balance between the public's right to know and the individual's right to keep inf

    • I'm a pretty liberal dude - but this age-information-protection thing is the wrong role for any governance to be playing.

      I'd go a step farther and say that the information-protection thing is the wrong role etc. I reject the notion that diplomacy can only be conducted by underhanded means. That might be true for tiny, powerless nations, but we are the world's big swinging dick, and that means we should be able to act scrupulously. With great power, great responsibility. Not just great opportunity to fuck everything.

      It's just bad tactics too - objecting to information only spreads that information further (justly called the Streisand effect).

      In short, any road which leads through suing your customers leads nowhere positive. Microsoft tried that, and lo

    • It's an objective, publicly available piece of information. Birth records aren't secret, or in any way protected from public view.

      I'm not sure that if you knew my name and the approximate year I was born that you could find my birth record. Probably depends on whether there was a birth announcement in the local paper when I was born and it is currently searchable on the internet. I can tell you that I can probably count on one or two hands the number of people who know me who know the city and state I was born in. I have very good friends who know my birthday but have no idea where I was born. I took a look and my state of birth w

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2017 @11:23PM (#53915551)
    The summary doesn't make this clear but this is not a final ruling in this case. The judge merely granted the plaintiff (IMDb) a preliminary injunction enjoining the government from enforcing this statute until the case is decided. However, since a preliminary injunction is granted only if there's a good chance the party filing the motion will succeed at trial, it does bode well. The state has an uphill battle at this point.
  • Any law that is this blatantly unconstitutional should have to be defended on the Politicians' dime, not the taxpayers'.
  • is to come out with a warning label stating that “Publishing actors' ages is known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.” The 'cancer card' ought to trump, (Trump?), a federal court judge's ruling.

  • The only reason to visit IMDB was the forums and that's gone, so sayonara, IMDB!

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