Read the full article by Mark Kernes at


PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today heard argument for the fourth time in the case that never seems to die: the lawsuit against the federal record-keeping and labeling laws, 18 U.S.C. §§2257 and 2257A (“2257” for short).

The current appeal is based on the ruling issued in August of 2018 by U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson, which for the most part struck down the laws based on the appeals court’s previous ruling that the judge had to consider the law in the light of strict scrutiny—that 2257 had to, in pertinent part, be narrowly tailored to achieve the government’s goal of thwarting child porn, and had to be the least restrictive means of doing so—two requirements that the government clearly failed to achieve.

This time, the appeals panel consisted of two George W. Bush and one Obama appointees—Kent A. Jordan (W), Michael Chagares (W) and Luis Felipe Restrepo (O)—and it was clear from the start that they were well aware of what had previously happened in the case, and were ready to focus on the points raised by both sides in the briefs submitted earlier this year.

Although both parties had appealed Judge Baylson’s ruling, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Murphy was the first to argue, and she began by reiterating the government’s position that 2257 is all about making sure no underage performers are being used in sexually explicit content, and claiming that the use of young-looking performers is so pervasive that the law could not be considered overbroad, as the plaintiffs/appellees had claimed.