The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a ruling today in a case brought by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and a number of other plaintiffs challenging a new display law in Arkansas (see 'CBLDF Joins Arkansas Suit'). The Arkansas Supreme Court was asked by the U.S. District Court, where the First Amendment case was filed, to answer four questions about the display law so that its constitutionality could be determined.
We await legal interpretation from the Fund in order to determine the probable effects of the ruling, but can report some information here. First, the Court ruled that the law is intended to protect all minors, and its interpretation cannot be narrowed to apply only to a subset. Second, display was defined as simply shelving the product -- the cover does not have to be visible. Third, the retailer must know that a minor is viewing the material and then intentionally ignore it in order to be determined to 'have allowed' the minor to view the material. This is similar to the interpretation in a recent ruling on the Michigan display law (see 'Favorable Ruling on Michigan Display Law'). And fourth, in order for a retailer to be protected by the 'safe harbor' provision of the law, there must be a physical obstacle preventing minors from accessing the material.
The case now goes back to federal court for a ruling on its constitutionality. The law is not being enforced while the case is underway (see 'Arkansas Law Won't Be Enforced').