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April 24, 2001 01:18pm
Supreme Court to Rule on 'Virtual' Child Porn
Source: Family Research Council
by: Company Press Release

(WASHINGTON) -- On Monday, Family Research Council, along with the National Law Center for Children and Families and the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the federal ban on computer generated child porn images is constitutional.

The case, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, involves a review of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA), a bill that expanded federal child porn statutes to include a ban on ``virtual'' or computerized child porn. A copy of the amicus brief, signed by FRC's Senior Director of Legal Studies Jan LaRue, is available at: http://www.frc.org/frc.cfm?get=LB01D1 .

While federal child pornography laws prohibit the use of minors ``in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct,'' pedophiles are using computer technology to produce a new form of child pornography, which is not included under these statutes. Congress expanded the definition of child pornography in the CPPA of 1996 to include computer generated images of sexually explicit conduct if they are, or appear to be, of a minor engaging in that conduct.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared the statute unconstitutional, but the First, Fourth, and Eleventh Circuits have upheld it. Of note: The Ninth Circuit received the See No Evil award for its decision at FRC's 4th annual Court Jester Awards ceremony last year.

In FRC's amicus brief, it is argued that the statute is valid for three main reasons:

1. the new law only applies where the images are so realistic that they appear to be real, whether created in whole or part by polaroid or pentium; 2. that counterfeit child porn is a clear and present danger to children because such realistic images would have the same incitement effect on pedophiles to molest children and the same seductive effect on children to become victims and, therefore, the act of knowingly producing, distributing, or possessing such child sex images should not be recognized as a type of protected expression under the First Amendment; and 3. that such computer imaging technology is a threat to the effectiveness of the existing child exploitation statutes. Law enforcement could not find all the children in the images and defendants would argue that there is an automatic reasonable doubt defense to prosecutions of even "real" child porn under the old statute because it cannot be assumed that what appears to be a picture of a child is actually of a real child when computers can create the same authentic-looking images.

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