Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Child Pornography Law

Washington, D.C – Today the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling which upholds a federal law passed to curb child pornography. The law provides for criminal penalties for advertising, promoting, presenting, soliciting or distributing a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

The facts involve a man, Michael Williams, who used a sexually explicit screen name and signed onto a public internet chat room with a disturbing message regarding photographs with him and his toddler daughter and wanting similar photos sent to him by others. He pled guilty to one count of pandering and one count of possession of child pornography. Williams then challenged the constitutionality of the federal law. In a seven to two decision, the high court reversed the decision of the Eleventh Circuit which found the law overbroad and vague.

In an effort to protect the public from people such as Williams, the Pacific Justice Institute has recently engaged in the fight to limit access to pornography in places such as libraries where children are present. PJI staff attorney Matthew McReynolds has worked actively by addressing library board members and writing legal opinions to counter the claims of attorneys for the ACLU who have contended that the First Amendment ties the hands of libraries to protect the public. The view that free speech prevents lawmakers from taking reasonable steps to prohibit dangerous anti-social behavior was rebuffed by Justice Scalia who wrote for the seven members of the Court which formed the majority. Justice Souter wrote the dissent and was joined by Justice Ginsberg.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, “This decision sends a strong signal to local policy makers including library boards that this Court will give great deference in efforts to protect children from sex predators.”