Senate files civil lawsuit over sex ads


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has filed a lawsuit to force classified advertising website Backpage.com to turn over documents about how it screens ads for possible sex trafficking.

Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Claire McCaskill of Missouri announced Tuesday that the Senate legal counsel filed a civil action in federal district court after the website failed to comply with a congressional subpoena over its screening practices. Portman is the Republican chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and McCaskill is the top Democrat.

The Senate voted earlier this month to hold the website in contempt, the first time in 20 years the chamber has done so.

A lawyer for Backpage.com has said Congress cannot compel an online publisher of third-party advertisements to produce the documents under the First Amendment.