Monday, May 19, 2008

United States Supreme Court Allows Federal Law Against Child Pornography To Stand

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling upholding a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly offer to provide or request to obtain child pornography. In United States v. Williams, the Court upheld the law known as the "Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003."

In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that the law does not violate the First Amendment, noting that offers to engage in illegal transactions are not protected by the First Amendment. Justices Souter and Ginsburg dissented, arguing that porn peddlers who trick purchasers with fake child porn should not be prosecuted.

The Court has already ruled in an earlier case that laws may prohibit obscene material depicting actual or computer-generated images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and any other material depicting actual children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

In 2002, the Court struck down an earlier law passed by Congress that would also prohibit materials that were not really child pornography, such as photos of youthful adults. As a result, Congress reacted by passing the current law that the Court upheld today, which provides for a mandatory 5-year sentence for promoting or attempting to obtain child pornography.

We applaud the Supreme Court’s common sense decision to allow Congress to ban the spread of child pornography. The Department of Justice needs to start vigorously enforcing this law and other anti-obscenity laws that are necessary protect our children from online criminals who would profit from their images and steal their innocence. Pornography is a destructive force that degrades its subjects and twists the minds of the masses of viewers who become hooked on perverted images.