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By Peter J. Smith

  WASHINGTON, D.C., March 27, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The US Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a child pornography law passed in 2003 violates First Amendment protections of free speech.

  The PROTECT Act of 2003, which penalizes those advertising, promoting, presenting, distributing, or soliciting material containing or purported to contain illegal child pornography, was struck down by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals as overbroad and impermissibly vague.

“Non-commercial, non-inciteful promotion of illegal child pornography, even if repugnant, is protected speech under the First Amendment,” the federal court decreed.

  The court argued that the “promoting or pandering” section of the law could theoretically apply to a grandparent’s e-mail entitled “Good pics of kids in bed” showing their grandchildren in pajamas as well as a convicted child molester trading in child pornography.

  The court also objected that the law penalizes someone who touts material as child pornography, even if the material is not pornographic in itself.

  However, the Bush Administration requested the Supreme Court take the case on its fall docket, saying the appeals court interpreted the law’s language more broadly than the law intended, jeopardizing a law written to protect children from sexual exploitation.

  The 2003 law ensnared Michael Williams, whose conviction in Florida for promoting, or pandering, child porn on the Internet was reversed by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a plea bargain, Williams agreed to a five-year prison sentence for possession of child-pornography, but could challenge the law that exposed him and placed him behind bars.

  Williams was exposed by a federal agent in an online chat room, where they first swapped non-pornographic photographs. Williams advertised himself as “Dad of toddler has ‘good’ pics of her an [sic] me for swap of your toddler pics, or live cam.” Williams also claimed he had pornographic materials of his 4 year old daughter: “I’ve got hc [hard core] pictures of me and dau, …do you??”

  Williams then posted seven images of actual minors ages 5- 15 years old engaging in sexually explicit conduct, nudity, or both. Agents arrested him after finding 22 child porn images on his home computer with a search warrant.

  Congress made clear that “efforts to stimulate, feed or capitalize on a market for what purports to be child pornography deserve no sanctuary,” said Solicitor General Paul Clement in court papers.

  Congress saw that “even fraudulent offers to buy or sell unprotected child pornography help to sustain the illegal market for this material,” said Clement, who will argue for the law that caught Williams.

  The case is U.S. v. Williams, 06-694.

  See Court papers here:

  No. 06-694: United States v. Williams – Petition: https://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2006/2pet/7pet/2006-0694.pet.aa.pdf

  No. 06-694: United States v. Williams – Reply (Petition): https://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2006/2pet/7pet/2006-0694.pet.rep.pdf

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