Minnesota Supreme Court upholds state's 'revenge porn' laws

The Court of Appeals had previously found the state's laws regarding nonconsensual sharing of explicit content to be unconstitutional.
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Reversing a previous ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court has deemed "revenge porn" unprotected speech.

In a Wednesday ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned a decision by the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals had previously found Minnesota’s laws prohibiting the nonconsensual distribution of explicit images and videos – aka "revenge porn" – to be too broad and a violation of the First Amendment. Wednesday’s ruling reverses that decision.

The ruling is a result of multiple challenges to the 2017 case of Michael Casillas, who posted a sexually explicit video of his ex-girlfriend online and sent it to 44 people.

Casillas was charged with a felony violation of Minnesota’s revenge porn laws. He then moved to dismiss the charges in Dakota County District Court, alleging Minnesota’s laws against nonconsensual distribution of the explicit content were unconstitutional.

The district court denied the motion and Casillas was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

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But a Court of Appeals later determined the state’s law was too broad and therefore unconstitutional. That ruling was overturned by the Wednesday decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which upheld the state statute that Casillas was convicted under.

The Minnesota Supreme Court did send the case back to the Court of Appeals to consider other aspects of Casillas’ claims.

“Based on this broad and direct threat to its citizens’ health and safety, we find that the State has carried its burden of showing a compelling governmental interest in criminalizing the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images,” the ruling reads. 

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