High court to hear child-porn case

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WASHINGTON, D.C.— At the urging of the Bush administration, the U.S. Supreme Court this fall will review a case concerning a federal law aimed at child pornographers.

The Protect Act helped prosecutors go after Michael Williams, who was caught posting obscene pictures of toddlers on the Internet. Law enforcement shut him down, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the "promotion of illegal child pornography … is protected speech." It also declared that portions of the law are too broad and struck them down.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said the appeals court went too far.

"The 11th Circuit was afraid the law was going to sweep too many innocent actions or activities within its scope," he said, "such as convicting grandparents of sending their grandchildren's pictures over the Internet."

Hausknecht called that perspective an "unreasonable interpretation of the law." 

The Justice Department will be arguing that efforts that feed the child-porn industry "deserve no sanctuary."

Patrick Trueman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said he is not convinced the Supreme Court will do the right thing "because there's been a 5-to-4 split on the Supreme Court, five in favor of First Amendment over children."
 Trueman said if the Supreme Court does not reverse the decision, it will hamper prosecutors who are trying to protect children.

Published, May 2007