Magazine article American Libraries

Supreme Court Nixes Virtual Child Porn Ban. (News Fronts Washington)

Magazine article American Libraries

Supreme Court Nixes Virtual Child Porn Ban. (News Fronts Washington)

Article excerpt

In a 6-3 decision April 16, the Supreme Court struck down two provisions of a federal law that banned "virtual" child pornography using computer-generated images that only appear to depict actual children, The law prohibited any depiction that "appears to be a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct."

In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said that the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 was unconstitutionally broad and so far-reaching that it had the potential to chill expression with clear artistic and literary merit, the New York Times reported April 17. The statute "prohibits speech that records no crime and creates no victims by its production," wrote Kennedy, who added that it "prohibits the visual depiction of an idea--that of teenagers engaging in sexual activity--that is a fact of modern society and has been a theme in art and literature throughout the ages."

The law was challenged by the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association of adult-entertainment producers and video stores. The American Library Association's Freedom to Read Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief in the case.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, Attorney General John Ashcroft and House members unveiled new legislation designed to withstand judicial scrutiny. …

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