Alabama is the only state in the USA that has outlawed sex toys—until now.
Pleasures sex shop proprietress Sherri Williams has managed to fight the good fight all the way to the Supreme Court, but they kept the ban in place. However, there is a loophole in the law does allow for sex toy sales if there is a bona fide
medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose.
Taking advantage of that, Ms. Williams has opened not just the first adult toy store in Alabama, but the first adult toy store drive-thru in the world. Using an old Wells Fargo bank building in Huntsville, she plans to cash in by selling whips,
lubes, and vibes through the chutes in discreet paper bags.
Williams has all of her customers fill out a medical questionnaire explaining what health-related needs the purchase of a sex toy will fill.
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.
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news that the appeal court would hear a legal challenge to a city sex toy ban, the council has backed down and has now repealed the repressive law.
Sandy Springs City Council repealed the local law known as the sexual device ordinance.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.