, LLC v Thomas J. Dart, Sheriff of Cook County, No. 15-3047 (7th Cir. 2015)

Document type
Court Decision
(1) The Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois in an attempt to shut down’s advertising of sexual services sent a letter to Visa and MasterCard, demanding the companies to "immediately cease and desist from allowing . . . credit cards to be used to place ads on websites like" Visa and MasterCard complied and refused to process credit card transactions to purchase any ads on the website, including those for other services. (2) Backpage then filed a preliminary injunction against the Sheriff, but it was denied by the Northern District Court of Illinois. (3) On appeal, Judge Posner from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the Sheriff in violation of the website's First Amendment right through "threatened imposition of government power or sanction" in an attempt to stifle protected forms of speech. According to Posner's decision, First Amendment protected platforms and intermediaries from government threats and coercion to remove unwanted speech. See also Columbia GFE
Topic, claim, or defense
Obscenity or Morality
Public Order (Includes National Security)
Freedom of Expression
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Appellate Domestic Court
Type of service provider
Host (Including Social Networks)
Payment Processor/Service
Issues addressed
Procedural Protections for Users and Publishers
OSP obligation considered
Block or Remove
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Strengthens Immunity