Home > News > Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Pandering Child Porn • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Pandering Child Porn

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Pandering Child Porn
Get XBIZ News
Oct 31, 2007 5:30 PM PDT    Text size: 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday regarding whether a child pornography law could be limited so that it would not apply to legitimate creative expression, vivid adolescent imaginations or innocent emails with provocative headings.

A 2003 federal law that sets a five-year mandatory prison term for promoting child porn is being challenged, and opponents have said the law could apply to mainstream movies, including "Traffic" and "Titanic," that depict underage sex.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the provision, saying it makes a crime out of merely talking about illegal images or possessing innocent materials that someone else might believe is pornography. In the appeals court's view, the law could apply to an email sent by a grandparent and entitled "Good pics of kids in bed," showing grandchildren dressed in pajamas.

In the 2002 Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition decision, the Supreme Court struck down provisions of a 1996 child pornography law because they called into question legitimate educational, scientific or artistic depictions of youthful sex.

Congress responded in 2003 with the PROTECT (Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today) Act, which contains the "pandering child pornography" provision under challenge.

Richard Diaz, the lawyer for Michael Williams, a Florida man convicted under the law, told the court: "It is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, because on its face it captures protected speech about materials. And it captures protected speech about materials that may not even, in fact, exist."

Williams also was convicted of possession of child pornography. That conviction and the resulting five-year prison term is not being challenged.

"After the victory in Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition, Congress passed a new law that addressed part of what we prevailed in," 1st Amendment attorney Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ. "They enacted another attempt to criminalize what they characterize as pandering child pornography; that is, offering for sale material which could be interpreted as an offer of sale of child pornography.

"The Supreme Court struck that down, and this was an attempt to evade the court's ruling in the hopes that a different court would come along."

According to Douglas, the definition of "pandering child pornography" could cover constitutionally protected materials.

"The government's argument was, in essence: Trust us, we wouldn't go after someone offering to sell the movie 'Lolita,' we'll only go after bad guys. This is rampant nonsense. As long as you give prosecutors discretion you can be certain that there will be abuse, because there are people out there who don't like mainstream movies. When 'The Exorcist' was released, a prosecutor in Alabama said he was going to prosecute it for violating the state's blasphemy laws — although the blasphemy laws had been repealed generations before.

"When you put your freedom in the good faith of prosecutors, your liberty will be short-lived."

The court's decision will be handed down before the end of the Supreme Court's term next summer.

The case is U.S. vs. Williams, 06-694.

More ways to get XBIZ News:  RSS Feeds  |  E-Newsletters  |  Desktop Widget  |  Mobile
Looking for porn star news and behind-the-scene videos? Check out XFANZ.com !


Dissecting an $11.9M Affiliate Marketing Judgment

The Federal Trade Commission scored another major win in early October when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling, requiring LeadClick Media LLC to pay an $11.9 million award. The... More »

Legal Protection for Amateur Shoots

Any adult industry professional who creates video content with actual first-time amateurs will come to an early knowledge that later performer regret is commonplace. Recognized performers who regularly... More »

Legal Options to Address Pirated Cam Performances

Many webcam performers have experienced a new trend in online piracy — the illegal recording and publication of live webcam performances. The “business model” is disturbingly simple:... More »
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.

Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Access the latest issues of the industry's leading trade publications in digital form. View online or download for offline viewing.


XBIZ 2017

Jan 09 - Jan 13
Hollywood, CA

XBIZ Awards 2017

Jan 12 - Jan 12
Los Angeles, CA

ANME Founders Show

Jan 14 - Jan 15
Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport

Everything To Do With Sex Show

Jan 20 - Jan 22
Montréal, Québec
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!