WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court struck down a congressional ban on virtual child pornography Tuesday, ruling that the First Amendment protects pornography or other sexual images that only appear to depict real children engaged in sex.
The 6-3 ruling is a victory for both pornographers and legitimate artists such as moviemakers, who argued that a broad ban on simulated child sex could make it a crime to depict a sex scene like those in the recent movies "Traffic" or "Lolita."
The court said language in a 1996 child pornography law was unconstitutionally vague and far-reaching.
The court majority, led by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, found two provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act overly broad and unconstitutional.
"The First Amendment requires a more precise restriction," Kennedy wrote for himself and Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately to agree with the outcome.
The law was challenged by a trade association for pornographers.
The law barred sexually explicit material that "appear(s) to be a minor" or that is advertised in a way that "conveys the impression" that a minor was involved in its creation.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor partially agreed with the majority and partially disagreed. She was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia. Rehnquist and Scalia also filed their own separate dissenting opinion that went further.
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