Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending Texas’ anti-revenge pornography law. He asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn last year’s decision by the 12th Court of Appeals that blocked the law.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed the anti-revenge pornography law with unanimous support from the House and Senate. It made it a Class A misdemeanor to post intimate photos or videos of someone on the internet without their consent. A conviction could bring a fine of up to $4,000 and a sentence of up to one year in jail. The law was inspired by the case of a Texas woman who had no legal recourse after learning that intimate photos of her were posted online.
In his brief, Attorney General Paxton told the state Court of Criminal Appeals that the statutory text of the anti-revenge pornography law is consistent with the First Amendment because it only criminalizes non-consensual public disclosures of sexual images in cases where the depicted person has an expectation of privacy.
“The court should rehear the case and uphold Texas law to ensure that individuals who maliciously exploit the nonconsensual images of their victims are held criminally accountable,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Revenge porn can shatter lives, destroy careers and devastate families. Texas has an obligation to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.”
The ruling by the 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler included an order that a lower court dismiss charges against Jordan Bartlett Jones, who was accused of posting an intimate photo of a woman without her consent. Jones challenged the Texas law as unconstitutional.
Texas is one of more than two dozen states, along with the District of Columbia, with laws against posting sexually explicit images of individuals online without the individuals’ consent.
View a copy of the friend-of-the-court brief here.