Supreme Court Upholds Criminal Penalties for Child Pornography

A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a criminal penalty imposed by a lower court concerning promotion of child pornography.  The ruling was specifically intended to clarify one provision of a 2003 law establishing criminal penalties for possession of child pornography; the new decision establishes penalties for promotion of the offensive material, even if one does not “possess” it in the legal sense.  The decision established a five-year mandatory prison sentence for those convicted of promoting child pornography.

One of the points of contention in the case was the nature of child pornography covered, which, in the interpretation made by the Supreme Court, could include adults portraying minors engaged in simulated intercourse in Hollywood movies such as Titanic or Traffic, or even pictures of nude children sent to grandparents of even descriptions of pictures that may be interpretable as pornographic.

Critics of the decision, which had been reversed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals prior to being taken on by the Supreme Court, believe that there is too much leeway in the definition established and that it could result in prosecutions of innocent activities.


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