December 18, 1999 12:05pm
Court Rules on Child Pornography
(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) -- The federal Child Pornography Prevention Act goes too far by outlawing not only sexual images of actual children, but images that only appear to be minors, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
Barring child pornography is clearly constitutional, the court ruled, but outlawing images that do not involve the use of real children violates the First Amendment rights of people in the adult entertainment industry.
The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal focused on wording barring sexually explicit depictions that "appear to be" minors or "convey the impression" that minors are being portrayed.
"We find that the phrases ... are vague and overbroad and thus do not meet the requirements of the First Amendment," wrote Judge Donald W. Malloy. ``The balance of the Child Pornography Prevention Act is constitutional when the two phrases are stricken."
The appeal was filed on behalf of The Free Speech Coalition, a group of adult filmmakers, publishers, distributors and others in the industry.
"Nobody is endorsing kiddie porn. But when you get into this language that's wide open like that ... that goes too far," said H. Louis Sirkin, who represented the plaintiffs. "Nobody wants to be subject to a rule based on what someone thinks someone looks like."
The U.S. Justice Department did not return a call Friday seeking comment.