- Mike Blake/Reuters
- An Arizona lawmaker has introduced legislation to fund the border wall by taxing residents to access pornographic material on their devices.
- The bill would charge Arizona residents a $20 fee to obtain access to pornographic material.
- The proceeds would go into a fund named after Sen. John McCain to pay for a border wall, services for trafficking victims, and other uses.
- Free speech advocates argue, however, that taxing content protected by the First Amendment is unconstitutional.
As the federal government shutdown over funding for a wall on the US’ Southern border stretches into its 32nd day, one Arizona lawmaker is proposing a unique solution to fund the border wall – taxing Arizona citizens to watch pornography.
State Representative Gail Griffin’s bill, HB 2444, would block pornographic material on all devices located in Arizona, and require residents over 18 to put in an official request to the state government and pay a one-time $20 fee to be granted access to pornographic material on their devices.
The bill would re-direct fees into a John McCain Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Fund, which would then be able to receive grants to use the money for 10 defined purposes – including funding the wall, services for victims of sex and human trafficking, and assistance for law enforcement.
Civil liberties advocates say, however, that the Arizona bill and similar legislation introduced in other states run afoul of the first amendment.
A representative for the Free Speech Coalition, an organization which advocates for the adult and sex work industry, told the Arizona Mirror that charging people to access obscene content is “pretty clearly unconstitutional.”
Other state lawmakers have unsuccessfully attempted to pass taxes on pornography in several states around the country. Earlier this month, a Virginia lawmaker introduced similar legislation to fund services for trafficking victims with a $20 tax to access pornography.
“It’s unusual and does not sound feasible. It would end up blocking material that is protected by the First Amendment,” a spokesman for the National Coalition Against Censorship told the Huffington Post of the Virginia bill.
David Horowitz, executive director of The Media Coalition, told the HuffPost that bills that try to levy taxes on online content violate the constitution. “People have a First Amendment right to access this content, and publishers have a First Amendment right to provide it,” he said.
The Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.
While Arizona already has fencing along its border with Mexico, groups of migrants seeking to enter the US have recently used underground tunnels to get around the barriers. On Friday, US Border Patrol apprehended 376 migrants who used a network of 7 different tunnels to access the US in Yuma, Arizona.