May 7, 2009
Excerpted from craigslist’s memo in support of motion for judgement on the pleadings, filed monday:
Even assuming that all of the facts alleged in the Complaint are true, it is clear as a matter of law that judgment must be entered in favor of craigslist. First, while Plaintiff may use his Department to pursue those who exchange sex for money in Cook County, his claims (assuming for this motion that he can assert them in this manner) against craigslist are barred by a federal statute, 47 U.S.C. § 230 (“Section 230”). Courts across the country, including the Court of Appeals for this Circuit in a case against craigslist, uniformly have held that Section 230 broadly protects online service providers from suits seeking to impose liability on them for harmful and/or unlawful communications that originate from the users of the services. That is precisely what Plaintiff’s suit seeks to do, and it therefore must be dismissed.
Second, dismissal is also required for the independent reason that the relief sought by the Complaint is barred as a matter of law. The Complaint’s claim for monetary relief is facially invalid because Illinois law precludes a governmental party, such as a Sheriff, from suing in tort to recover the costs of providing police and law enforcement services. Likewise, the injunctive relief sought by the Complaint ― namely an order that craigslist “close” a portion of its website ― violates the First Amendment’s strong presumption against prior restraints on future speech.