Thursday, April 06, 2006


Today, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in United States v. Williams, No. 04-15128, handed down a signficant decision holding that the PROTECT ACT's provision that prohibits the promotion of child pornography is facially unconstitutional as overbroad and vague. This case originated in Judge Middlebrooks' division. And Louis I. Guerra preserved the issue and won on appeal.

Here is an excerpt from the decision -

"In the wake of Free Speech Coalition, sexually explicit speech regarding children that is neither obscene nor the product of sexual abuse of a real minor retains protection of the First Amendment. We believe the Court’s decision in Free Speech Coalition leaves Congress ample authority to enact legislation that allows the Government to accomplish its legitimate goal of curbing child abuse without placing an unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech. Certainly Congress took many cues from the Court in drafting the legislation at issue in this case.
Given the unique patterns of deviance inherent in those who sexually covet children and the rapidly advancing technology behind which they hide, we are not unmindful of the difficulties of striking a balance between Congress’s interest in protecting children from harm with constitutional guarantees. However, the infirmities of the PROTECT Act pandering provision reflect a persistent disregard of time-honored and constitutionally-mandated principles relating to the Government’s regulation of free speech and its obligation to provide criminal defendants due process. Because we find the PROTECT Act pandering provision, 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(3)(B), both substantially overbroad and vague, and therefore facially unconstitutional, we reverse Williams’s conviction under that section."

Here's the whole opinion.

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