In a controversial decision, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has struck down a 2005 state law that made it a felony for an adult to send a 'sexually explicit' electronic communication, like a text or an e-mail, to a minor, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The unanimous decision ruled that the law, which was written to prevent sexual predators from using the internet to communicate with children, violates constitutionally protected free speech.
The justice who wrote the ruling said the court was worried about punishing speech before it results in any negative consequences.
"This law may protect children from suspected sexual predators before they ever express any intent to commit illegal sexual acts, but it prohibits the dissemination of a vast array of constitutionally protected speech and materials."
The justices expressed a concern that an adult e-mailing a minor passages from literature, Shakespeare, and even from the Bible could be construed to be a violation. That would put the adult in danger of a felony conviction, ten years in prison, and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
The justices said there remain a wide array of laws that protect children from predators, both on line and in person.