Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U Essay

Pages: 2 (694 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Children

¶ … Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)

Procedural history: In Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an expansion of non-protected speech categories and affirmed the lower court's decision. The statute in question banned images of what appeared to be minors engaged in sexual conduct although the images were produced through digital or other means.

Facts: Earlier rulings by the court in Miller v. California had created a category of 'obscenity' that was not protected speech. Such speech could be restricted according to community standards (like prohibiting an adult theater from promoting its content outside of a school zone). In another relevant ruling, New York v. Ferber, child pornography was declared illegal given that the production of the material was the result of a crime evidently committed upon children and the state had a compelling interest in protecting children from abuse.

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Issue: Congress passed a more stringent definition of child pornography in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA), prohibiting any image that APPEARED to be a child engaging in sexual activity, which seemed to be a direct challenge of the Ferber standard. The CPPA banned sexual images using digital enhancement or using youthful looking adults. The Free Speech Coalition argued that this definition was excessively broad and vague and could be used to severely restrict a wide range of speech content, much of which was not obscene.

Essay on Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. Assignment

Summary of arguments: The majority, finding in favor of the Free Speech Coalition referred to Miller's community-based standard for obscenity, and noted that in today's day and age, the image of teenagers engaged in sexual intercourse was not a violation of many community's standards of obscenity. The Miller standard, when evaluating obscenity, also demanded that the work as a whole be considered, when judging if it has redeeming value. Conceivably, if the new standard was applied, a production of Romeo and Juliet could be banned, given that it contained the appearance of sexual intercourse between minors. Ferber applied a more stringent standard to child pornography only because the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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