Legal Principle at Issue
Whether a New York criminal statute that prohibits persons from knowingly promoting sexual performances by children under the age of 16 by distributing material which depicts such performances violates the First Amendment.
Reversed and remanded. Petitioning party received a favorable disposition.
The owner of a bookstore in Manhattan was convicted of promoting a sexual performance of a child by selling two sexually explicit films involving young boys to undercover police officers. New York argued this was in violation of a state criminal statute that prohibits knowingly promoting sexual performances by children under 16 by distributing material which depicts such performances. It also prohibits such materials that are produced out of state.
Importance of Case
The Court held the First Amendment did not bar New York from prohibiting the distribution of child pornography produced outside the state, as child pornography is not protected by the First Amendment so long as the prohibited conduct is adequately defined by the state statute (as written or authoritatively construed). The New York law thus does not violate the First Amendment.