Pro-family groups celebrated the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday to solidify a ruling on child pornography.
In a 7-2 vote, the court overwhelmingly agreed that "pandering" – the act of offering to sell or trade – child pornography was a federal offense.
"Child pornography harms and debases the most defenseless of our citizens," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia in the court's majority opinion. "Both the State and Federal Government have sought to suppress it for many years, only to find it proliferating though the new medium of the Internet."
The recent ruling overturned a 2003 decision by the 11th Circuit Court of U.S. Appeals that ruled in favor of Florida resident Michael Williams. Williams' attorneys had successfully argued then that his charges under the PROTECT Act – making it illegal to pander and attempt solicitation of child pornography – were vague and an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right to free speech, an assertion denied by the Supreme Court.
Pro-family groups said the ruling provided a boost in spirits so soon after what they called the "extraordinary judicial activism" of the high court in California to legalize gay "marriage" last week.
"There's no First Amendment right to possess child pornography. That's a fight the ACLU lost a long time ago, and now the Court has confirmed that there's no constitutional right to advertise or solicit it," the Family Research Council said in a statement.
But Richard Diaz, Williams' legal counsel in the case, said that the recent ruling by the Supreme Court was a disastrous blow to First Amendment rights.
"[The ruling] essentially says that you can't talk dirty, you can't think dirty – or clean, if somebody else thinks that you're thinking dirty, or thinks that you're talking dirty. It's a very, very dangerous proposition," he said, according to Cybercast News.
Mario Diaz, Policy Director for Legal Issues for Concerned Women of America, however, emphasized that the Supreme Court ruling was one based on decency and common sense.
"The Supreme Court got it exactly right," he said.
"There is no violation of the First Amendment right to free speech here. After all, the material at issue is illegal child pornography. The mere possession of it is in violation of the law," he continued.
"A law that protects children in such a significant way should not be struck down simply because there might be one person somewhere in Fantasyland that, given the right circumstances, might say it violates their free speech. That is nonsense and I'm glad the Justices saw through their mythical arguments," he concluded.