Jersey Votes NO on Senate bill 2421 / Assembly bill 3446

If S2421/A3446 becomes law, distributing obscene materials to children in NJ will remain illegal - Except for Teachers and Librarians.

They will be exempt from the current state law that prohibits adults from knowingly showing, exhibiting, and promoting obscene materials to Minors Under 18.

Senator Andrew Zwicker (D - Hillsborough) and Senator Teresa Ruiz (D - Newark) introduced Senate bill 2421, the so-called "Freedom to Read Act" on Monday, January 29, 2024

***Feb, 1, 2024, Assembly bill 3446 was introduced by sponsors: Assemblywoman Mitchell Drulis (D-Princeton), Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Princeton), and Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Delran).
Senator Andrew Zwicker
Senator Teresa Ruiz

Section 13 of Senate bill 2421/A3446 amends the current NEW JERSEY CODE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE LAW 2C:34-3 - Obscenity for Persons Under 18 (below)

 Definitions for purposes of this section:

Obscene materialmeans any description, narrative account, display, depiction of a specified anatomical area or specified sexual activity contained in, or consisting of, a picture or other representation, publication, sound recording, live performance or film, which by means of posing, composition, format or animated sensual details, emits sensuality with sufficient impact to concentrate prurient interest on the area or activity.

Depicts a specified anatomical area or specified sexual activity, or the simulation of a specified sexual activity, or verbalization concerning a specified sexual activity; and

 “Specified anatomical area” means:

  • Less than completely and opaquely covered human genitals, pubic region, buttock or female breasts below a point immediately above the top of the areola; or
  • Human male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, even if covered.

 “Specified sexual activity” means:

  • Human genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal; or
  • Any act of human masturbation, sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse; or
  • Fondling or other erotic touching of covered or uncovered human genitals, pubic region, buttock or female breast.

Exhibit” means the sale of admission to view obscene material.

Show” means cause or allow to be seen.

A person who knowingly sells, distributes, rents or exhibits to a person under 18 years of age obscene material is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

Senate bill 2421/Assembly bill 3446 – “Freedom to Distribute Obscene Materials Act” gives an “affirmative defense to a prosecution” from NJ2C:34-3 Obscenity for Persons Under 18 criminal justice code for teachers, teaching staff members, school librarians, and staff members of public libraries when performing their job duties. 

Excerpt below from Senate bill 2421/Assembly bill 3446, Section 13 (e) Defenses from prosecution for violating the current criminal code that prohibits distributing obscene materials to miniors

(3) (a) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under subsection b. that the defendant is a teaching staff member, including a school library media specialist, who is engaged in the performance of the person’s duties and complying with the provisions of sections 1 through 7 of  P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature  as this bill). As used in this paragraph, “teaching staff member” has the meaning set forth in N.J.S.18A:1-1.

(b) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under subsection b. that the defendant is a staff member of a public library, including a librarian employed by a public library who is engaged in the  performance of the person’s duties and complying with the  provisions of sections 8 through 12 of 10 P.L. , c.

What else does the "Freedom to Distribute Obscene Materials Act" do?

Removes Local Control by mandating EIGHT different requirements local boards of education must adopt “at a minimum” to give all decision making power to determine what is sexually explicit to librarians and NOT parents.  Section 4

Silences parents from expressing their disagreements regarding the decisions made by school librarians and teachers to distribute obscene material as defined in the law. This bill states parents can be held financially liable for court and attorney’s fees for objecting to the actions of librarians and teachers. Section 7

Grants “protective class status” to library media specialists and teaching staff members (similar to race, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, etc…) under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination – preventing local school boards from holding them accountable for distributing obscene sexually explicit materials to children.  Section 14