Ashcroft Brief Essay

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Case Citation: Ashcroft V. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (Sup Crt, 2005) Parties: John D. Ashcroft, Plaintiffs The Free Speech Coalition ET AL., Defendant Facts: A provision in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA) (18USCS 2252(a)) was designed to prohibit the possession or distribution of ‘child pornography’. Within this Act was a section 18 USCS 2256(8)(B), which included images appearing to show minors engaging in sexual activity. The section, as defined, implied even images of a ‘virtual’ nature or adults dressed to look like children. Procedural History: Various plaintiffs--including a trade association for the adult-entertainment industry, the publisher of a book advocating the nudist lifestyle, a painter of nudes, and a photographer specializing in erotic images--brought a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against the United States Attorney General and the United States Department of Justice. The District Court agreed with the government and granted summary judgment contending the provisions were constitutional. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held the provisions in the act were unconstitutional and did indeed infringe on the plaintiffs exertion of free speech. Issue: Whether elements of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 abridged free speech when attempting to strictly define what images would be deemed child pornography, to include images of adults portraying children engaged in sexual acts and virtual images of child pornography. Holding: No, The Department of Justice and Congress are unable to make laws that abridge the freedom of speech. Reasoning: Plaintiffs advanced the following two theories in support of their position: 1. Images depicting sexual acts with a child are illegal,
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