The U.S. Supreme Court Addresses the Child Pornography Prevention Act and Child Online Protection Act in Ashcroft V. Free Speech Coalition and Ashcroft V. American Civil Liberties Union

By Mota, Sue Ann | Federal Communications Law Journal, December 2002 | Go to article overview

The U.S. Supreme Court Addresses the Child Pornography Prevention Act and Child Online Protection Act in Ashcroft V. Free Speech Coalition and Ashcroft V. American Civil Liberties Union


Mota, Sue Ann, Federal Communications Law Journal


"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." (1)

I. INTRODUCTION

A very difficult issue facing the United States is applying First Amendment rights in cyberspace. With the motive of protecting children, the government has attempted regulation in this area concerning virtual child pornography and minors accessing pornographic materials online.

Finding that "the use of children in the production of sexually explicit material, including photographs, films, videos, computer images, and other visual depictions, is a form of sexual abuse which can result in physical or psychological harm, or both, to the children involved," (2) Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 ("CPPA"). (3) The CPPA expanded the federal ban on child pornography from pornographic images made using actual children to include computer-generated images appearing to be children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. (4) On April 16, 2002, in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sections of the CPPA as overbroad and unconstitutional. (5)

Finding that minors have access to harmful materials through the widespread availability of the Internet, (6) Congress in 1998 enacted the Child Online Protection Act ("COPA") (7) to restrict access by minors to harmful materials sold on the World Wide Web. This section was carefully drafted (8) to respond to a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU"), (9) that struck down as unconstitutional provisions of the Communications Decency Act ("CDA"), (10) which was enacted by Congress in 1996 to limit the exposure of children to sexually explicit materials online. On May 13, 2002, in Ashcroft v. ACLU, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld sections of COPA as not unconstitutionally overbroad, but the Court expressed no view as to whether other provisions are overbroad, whether the statute is vague, or whether COPA survives strict scrutiny. (11)

Both the CPPA and the COPA were statutes intended by Congress to protect minors. The CPPA was intended to protect minors from the harmful effects of virtual child pornography. The COPA was intended to protect minors from pornography currently available commercially on the World Wide Web. Neither statute currently is being enforced, despite their laudable motives to protect children. This Article will examine both statutes and both U.S. Supreme Court decisions. It also will predict the future of COPA and will recommend further congressional action to protect minors from the harmful effects of both virtual and real child pornography, and from accessing pornography on the Web.

II. CPPA AND ASHCROFT V. FREE SPEECH COALITION

Congress has repeatedly enacted legislation banning sexual exploitation of children. Finding that child pornography was both highly organized and profitable, and exploited children, (12) Congress in 1977 passed the Protecting of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act. (13) This Act criminalized knowingly using a minor younger than age sixteen to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce a visual depiction. (14) In 1984, Congress passed the Child Protection Act, (15) which expanded the 1977 Act and did away with the previous Act's requirement that the prohibited material be considered obscene under Miller v. California. (16) The 1984 Act also raised the minor's age from sixteen to eighteen and included not-for-profit trafficking. (17) This law was again amended in 1986 by the Child Sexual Abuse and Pornography Act, which banned the production and use of advertisements for child pornography and created civil liability for personal injuries to children from the production of child pornography. (18)

The Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988 made it unlawful to use a computer to transport, distribute, or receive child pornography. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The U.S. Supreme Court Addresses the Child Pornography Prevention Act and Child Online Protection Act in Ashcroft V. Free Speech Coalition and Ashcroft V. American Civil Liberties Union
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.