U.S. Supreme Court

Justices Seek Ways to Uphold Child Pornography Law

  • Print.

U.S. Supreme Court justices appear intent on finding a way to uphold the latest congressional effort to outlaw child pornography.

In oral arguments yesterday, the justices debated how they could uphold the law, known as the Protect Act, and even toyed with the idea of overturning the overbreadth doctrine, SCOTUSblog reports. The law bars promoting material “in a manner that reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe, that the material or purported material” is child pornography, Law.com reports.

The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had struck down the Protect Act because it was overbroad—potentially prohibiting constitutionally protected speech—and vague. The appeals court had said the law was so broad as to ban an offer to sell “a copy of Disney’s Snow White on false claims that it contains depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.”

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a previous law that banned virtual child porn five years ago. But the new law may not meet the same fate, the New York Times reports.

At one point, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked if it would be “simpler and maybe prudent” for the court to re-examine the overbreadth rule, given the problem posed by child pornography.

The oral arguments persuaded the Times that the justices “seemed likely to support a version of [the law] they would construe narrowly to allay concerns the law is so broadly written as to make it a crime to share or even describe depictions of children in explicit sexual situations, even if the depictions are inaccurate, the supposed children do not really exist and the intention is innocent.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.