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Obama Condoms Don't Break Law

Obama Condoms Don't Break Law


A judge dismissed the case of a New York City man selling condoms bearing politically charged messages without a retail permit.

Jose Andujar, who was selling the condoms in September 2010, argued that his condoms fell within the legal limits of the "written material" law. His condoms bore images of politicos with satirical slogans about public issues. The condom featuring President Barack Obama said, "Hope is Not A Form of Protection," while the Sarah Palin condom said, "When Abortion is Not An Option."

City law states that the vendors need a license to sell items, unless the items fall within the written material exception, “which states it shall be unlawful for any individual to act as a general vendor without having first obtained a license … except that it shall be lawful for a general vendor who ... sells ... newspapers, periodicals, books, pamphlets and other similar written matter,” according to the First Amendment Center.

While the Department of Consumer Affairs, which enforces the law, says the exception covers political messages on items such as t-shirts, buttons, and flags. Judge Lynn R. Kottler ruled on February 28 that the condoms were akin to those items.

“Here, the reasonable consumer of these condoms is unlikely to purchase them for use as a barrier device used during sexual intercourse, which the usual purpose of such items,” Kottler wrote. “Rather, the reasonable consumer would purchase the defendant’s condoms because of the political message contained on the wrapper.”

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