Supreme Court Rules on Internet Child Pornography Case

The Court recently held in United States v. Williams, that the challenged portions of the PROTECT Act were not unconstitutionally broad or vague.  As we discussed in class, the PROTECT ACT is a law intended to prevent child abuse, but has cyberlaw elements.  The Williams case challenged the part of the Act that criminalized anyone who knowingly

advertises, promotes, presents, distributes, or solicits through the mails, or in interstate or foreign commerce by any means, including by computer, any material or purported material in a manner that reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe, that the material or purported material is, or contains (i) an obscene visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or (ii) a visual depiction of an actual minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. [18 USC §2252A(a)(3)(B)]

The Supreme Court ruling reversed a prior ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which found that although the content described in subsections (i) and (ii) is not constitutionally protected, speech that advertises or promotes such content does have the protection of the First Amendment.  Read the Supreme Court’s Opinionat their official website.  LII’s Supreme Court Collection has the document divided by majorty opinion, concurrence, and dissent.  Also, see SCOTUSblog for great post-case analysis.


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