Republican Californian Congressman Duncan Hunter has introduced a bill titled the 'Parents' Empowerment Act,' which would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue (in federal court) anyone who knowingly disseminates any media which contains 'material that is harmful to minors.' If it passes, this bill would affect the entire supply chain, from publisher/manufacturer, to distributor, to retailer.
The bill goes on to specify that it will only apply if the material is distributed in a way that 'a reasonable person can expect a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material, is likely to suffer personal or emotional injury or injury to mental or moral welfare.'
Compensatory damages under the bill would start at no less than $10,000 for any instance a minor is exposed to harmful entertainment products. The bill also provides a separate definition of obscenity specifically for children.
CBLDF Director Charles Brownstein said, 'It appears to allow for civil actions against any, or every, member of the dissemination food chain, from the retailer to the distributor to the publisher, or work that an individual parent may object to. So any citizen, using their own sense of what is obscene or harmful to minors, can bring suit.'
This bill, which has been currently referred to the House Judiciary Committee, is backed by the Christian Coalition, the American Center for Law and Justice and the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University.