Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union was a First Amendment case that sought to establish whether two provisions of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 violated the First Amendment of the US Constitution (Watts, 2010, p. 256). The two provisions prohibited the display of patently offensive and indecent online speech. The Court held that the two provisions violated the First Amendment (First Amendment Center, 2006). It argued that the provisions suppressed the free speech right of adults to receive information and speech and to address one another, despite protecting minors from harmful material (Watts, 2010, p. 256).
The case compares to Proverbs 23:10-11King James Version (KJV) in the bible, which requires people not to remove old landmarks or to enter into the fields of the fatherless because their Redeemer shall ensure that that they (the fatherless) are served with justice. American adults compare to the fatherless while their freedom of speech as provided for by the First Amendment compares to the old landmark. The country’s judicial system, specifically the Supreme Court, which enforces the constitution, compares to the Redeemer and ensures that the adults are served with justice, which is the restoration of their freedom of speech.
The First Amendment does not protect child pornography, and the production, importation, reception, possession and transmission of child pornography is illegal. Child pornography is the visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct of any form that involves minors, who are persons aged below eighteen years (US Department of Justice, 2016). Offenders face severe statutory fines and penalties. First-time offenders convicted under Section 2251A are fined and sentenced to a minimum of fifteen and a maximum of thirty years in prison. They may also face harsher penalties if the minors involved in the child pornography were sexually abused or if the images involved are violent and sadistic in nature (US Department of Justice, 2016). Previously convicted offenders may be subjected to harsher penalties such as up to life sentences.
- First Amendment Center,. (2006). First Amendment Schools: The Five Freedoms – Court Case.Firstamendmentschools.org. Retrieved 5 March 2016, from http://www.firstamendmentschools.org/freedoms/case.aspx?id=336
- US Department of Justice,. (2016). Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography | CRIMINAL-CEOS | Department of Justice. Justice.gov. Retrieved 5 March 2016, from https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos/citizens-guide-us-federal-law-child-pornography
- Watts, D. (2010). Dictionary of American Government and Politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.