Lawsuit Seeks to Decriminalize Prostitution in California; Anti-Porn Group Warns of Sex Trafficking Link

An anti-pornography organization has filed an amicus brief against a lawsuit aimed at decriminalizing prostitution in the state of California.

(Christine Balili)Human and Sex Trafficking in America.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation filed the brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday in the case of Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project v. George Gascon et al.

In its brief, NCOSE argued among other things that the ESPLERP's claim that California's government lacks a compelling interest in barring prostitution is untrue.

"ESPLERP claims that California's law 'does not significantly further any important governmental interest'," read the brief.

"However, prostitution is inherently an act of sexual coercion, is a form of sexual violence and is integrally connected to sex trafficking, drug abuse, brutality, rape, and murder. The state of California maintains an important government interest in preventing the crimes and health risks associated with prostitution."

Savanah Lawrence, an attorney with NCOSE's Law Center who was involved in the brief, told The Christian Post that NCOSE "got involved for several reasons."

"We recognize that sexual exploitation does not occur in a vacuum and that prostitution is not only inherently a form of sexual exploitation but that it is also linked to other forms of sexual exploitation, especially sex trafficking," said Lawrence.

"Because of the grave harms associated with prostitution, and the impact this case could have on the country, how could we not get involved?"

In addition to NCOSE, eleven other groups signed onto the brief: Freedom From Exploitation of California, Covenant House California, Space International, Equality Now, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Demand Abolition, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Wichita State University Center for Comabting Human Trafficking, Global Centurion Foundation, Survivors for Solutions, Sanctuary for Families, and the National Organization for Women in New York.

In late March U.S. District Court Judge J​effrey White for the Northern District of California ruled against ESPLERP, granting the defendants' motion to dismiss.

"Defendant asserts that the statute survives scrutiny under the rational basis test because criminalizing prostitution is rationally related to numerous legitimate government interests. Those government interests include, for instance, preventing a climate conducive to violence against women and potential human trafficking, preserving the public health, and deterring the commodification of sex," wrote Judge White.

"Accordingly, the Court finds that Defendant has proffered sufficient legitimate government interests that provide a rational basis to justify the criminalization of prostitution in California."

In June, ESPLERP filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit, claiming a statement that White's ruling was "d​eeply flawed."

"... we are confident that the merits of our case will finally be recognized and we will be granted our basic human rights," stated ESPLERP.

As the appeal is in the system, Lawrence of NCOSE told CP that the case "has the potential to impact policies on prostitution in all nine states that are under the Ninth Circuit's jurisdiction."

"If the law were found to be unconstitutional in California, then pro-prostitution groups in each of the other 8 states, could sue their state for its anti-prostitution laws. The courts would then have to defer to the ruling of the Ninth Circuit," added Lawrence.

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook