Supreme Court says "fake" child pornography is okay, but Ashcroft takes action
Christian and profamily organizations are outraged over yesterday's Supreme Court decision (html | pdf) that overturned a nationwide ban on depicting minors in sexual activity. "The statute proscribes the visual depiction of an idea—that of teen-agers engaging in sexual activity—that is a fact of modern society and has been a theme in art and literature throughout the ages," wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for the 6-3 majority.
The Child Pornography Protection Act (CPPA) barred distributing or possessing any images of children engaged in sex—even if no children had actually been used to make the pornography. Critics of the law—and the court majority—said it criminalized such films as American Beauty and Traffic, both Academy Award-winners.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dissented in part, but Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist dissented from the entire decision. "The aim of ensuring the enforceability of our nation's child pornography laws is a compelling one," Rehnquist wrote. "The [law] is targeted to this aim by extending the definition of child pornography to reach computer-generated images that are virtually indistinguishable from real children engaged in sexually explicit conduct."
Profamily organizations agreed. "The Court's speculation about movies like [American Beauty] and paintings being prosecuted is abject nonsense," says a press release from Jan LaRue, senior director of Legal Studies for Family Research Council. "Congress made clear that the law should not be construed to apply to such material. … All the Court needed to do is determine the reach of the statute and exclude the kinds of images to which it could ...1
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