Sex toys are banned in a backward corner of Georgia. The city of Sandy Springs enacted an ordinance in May 2004, banning the open display of vibrators and sex
toys by retailers and requiring a doctor's prescription to purchase such a device.
The 11th Circuit of appeals courts will now hold an en banc rehearing (with all the judges from the court) on a challenge to the sex toy ban that it previously upheld citing a 2004 precedent.
The ban prompted a string of lawsuits arguing that the ordinance was an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. However a federal judge in Atlanta upheld the ban, and in August 2016, an 11th Circuit panel upheld that decision, saying that it was bound by
its 2004 ruling in Williams v. Attorney General ( Williams IV ), challenging a similar ban in an Alabama city. The appeals court noted at the time:
Although we are sympathetic to the Appellant's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim, we are constrained by our prior precedent in Williams IV , and we are obligated to follow it -- even though convinced it is wrong. The Appellants are free to petition
the court to reconsider our decision en banc, and we encourage them to do so.
Presumably a multiple judge hearing is able to overrule previous precedents.
Update: Sex toys unbanned
24th March 2017 See article from avn.com
Shortly after the news that the appeal court would hear a legal challenge to a city sex toy ban, the council has
backed down and has now repealed the repressive law.
Sandy Springs City Council repealed the local law known as the sexual device ordinance. The local ordinance was patterned on one that had been adopted by the Georgia state legislature, but that was later invalidated, leaving Sandy Springs as one
of the few communities in Georgia which retains a similar ban. A council spokesperson said:
[The] code now matches up with state law regarding adult devices by not prohibiting the sale of such devices.
While council members refused to comment on the repeal after the vote, City Attorney Wendell Willard told reporters that the law, which was enacted in 2009 and has been the subject of several lawsuits, was unnecessary and expendable.
However it seems likely that the reson for the repeal was that the law's defence was proving too expensive. A council debate on the litigation revealed concerns that the city's insurance company balking at paying the legal bills for some of
the lawsuits the city has faced thanks to its restrictive adult business laws.