Supreme Court Considers Range of Child Porn Law The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will examine a congressional attempt to legislate against sexually explicit material on the Internet that involves children. At issue is a 2003 federal law passed after the Supreme Court struck down an earlier attempt.
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Supreme Court Considers Range of Child Porn Law

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Supreme Court Considers Range of Child Porn Law

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Supreme Court Considers Range of Child Porn Law

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

NINA TOTENBERG: Jay Sekulow is director of the Reverend Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice. He filed a brief in the case defending the law as constitutional.

JAY SEKULOW: What Congress said was, look, this problem of child pornography is so significant that even those that don't actually possess it but are alleging that they do - they're saying they have this child pornography - that in and of itself is criminal.

TOTENBERG: But anti-censorship groups counter that Congress has enacted a law that punishes so broadly that producers and marketers could go to prison for advertising award-winning movies like "The Tin Drum," "American Beauty," and "Lolita." Take this trailer featuring sexually suggestive images.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE "LOLITA")

JEREMY IRONS: (As Humbert Humbert) Light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul, Lolita.

TOTENBERG: Michael Bamberger filed a brief on behalf of the Association of America Publishers and other mainstream media organizations.

MICHAEL BAMBERGER: It's really a very twisted and a concerning situation because it's an attempt to restrict the distribution of sexual content containing non-obscene materials relating to minors and that is not child porn.

TOTENBERG: That notion, says Jay Sekulow, is absolutely incorrect.

SEKULOW: And the courts are very careful to understand that true artistic expression is one thing, pandering child pornography is something different.

TOTENBERG: Sekulow says the government has to prove intent.

SEKULOW: Was the person trying to entice someone into believing that they possessed or were distributing child pornography? If the answer to that is yes, that person was doing it - guilty.

TOTENBERG: Again, Jay Sekulow.

SEKULOW: It is the exploitation of children because it's feeding a frenzy to the end user.

TOTENBERG: Here again is the publisher's Michael Bamberger.

BAMBERGER: Someone who is convicted under this law of marketing perfectly legal materials, number one, faces potentially five to ten years first offense, and number two, in many if not most states will then be subject to the sexual offender registration laws for having sold something which is perfectly legal. And what concerns the mainstream media is that this is going to have a significant chilling effect on people like them who will have to sort of walk around how they discuss the plot of "Lolita" on the video.

TOTENBERG: Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.

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