The Supreme Court today will take up a First Amendment test of Congress’ ability to tackle child pornography in the digital age.
Justice Department lawyers defending a 2003 law that criminalizes the advertising of purported child porn say such Internet ads fuel the market for smut and hurt children even when the advertised pictures are fake.
Challengers to the law, including the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, counter that it sweeps too broadly. They say it threatens the marketing of Lolita and other fictional depictions of adolescent sex.
At stake is Congress’ latest attempt to prohibit sexual content on the Internet. Backed by 28 states, U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement stresses the need to curtail the marketing of child porn to protect the children abused to create it.
Clement, who will argue the case today, stressed in a written filing that because of the Internet “the distribution of child pornography has expanded exponentially.” He said even fraudulent offers to buy or sell child porn feed the market.