The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law which, in part, makes it a crime to promote or advertise child pornography whether or not the material actually exists.
The "pandering and solicitation" provision of the 2003 federal law prohibits the advertisement, promotion, presentation, distribution, or solicitation of "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" child pornography. In Monday's 7-2 decision, the Court held that the federal law is not unconstitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment, and does not criminalize a substantial amount of protected expressive activity.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Monday's decision "gives prosecutors a powerful weapon to go after those who talk about child pornography online," and "appears to take away a defense for those who say the material they were discussing involves computer images, not depictions of real children engaged in sex." Reuters reports that "opponents of the law argued it sweeps too broadly and could be applied to popular award-winning movies like 'Lolita,' 'Traffic,' 'American Beauty' and 'Titanic' that depict adolescent sex," while the government countered that "those movies are not child pornography and would not be targeted by the law."