Ashcroft Brief

Citation:Ashcroft v. The Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 232 (2002)

Parties:John D. Ashcroft, Attorney General, and the Government of the United States, Petitioners

The Free Speech Coalition, Respondents
In 1996 Congress passed the federal Child Pornography Protection Act (CPPA) which extended federal prohibition against child pornography to sexually explicit images that appear to depict minors but that were actually produced without using real children. The CPPA statute in question prohibited the possession or distribution of images that could be created by using adults who look like minors or by using computer imaging. The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) brought a lawsuit in federal district court against Attorney General Ashcroft and the United States Government based on the fact that the CPPA violated the First Amendment as it “vague” and “overbroad”. The district court upheld the CPPA. The court of appeals, however, reversed the decision claiming that the CPPA was unconstitutionally broad. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve this issue. Procedural History:

The Free Speech Coalition made up by an association of various businesses, all of which were involved in the production and distribution of “adult oriented materials brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Northern District of California. They alleged that the provisions added to the CPPA statutes were overbroad and vague. The United States Northern District of California ruled in favor of the government's motion for summary judgment. The Free Speech Coalition then appealed the district court's decision, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's. The Ninth Circuit court indicated that the government cannot prohibit speech only because it may incite someone to engage in an illegal act. A writ of certiorari was granted for the United States Supreme Court.


Whether the federal Child...
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