Protecting Children on the Internet: Mission Impossible?
34 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2009 Last revised: 18 Oct 2009
Date Written: 2009
Congress's latest effort to protect children from on-line predators banned the pandering or soliciting of child pornography regardless of whether the images were actual or virtual. My paper discusses last term's Supreme Court decision in United States v. Williams that upheld the prohibition and ruled that an offer to engage in illegal activity is unprotected speech. I place Williams within the larger context of the classic impossibility defense that differentiates between factually and legally frustrated attempts, and show how the majority and dissenting opinions fall into these two camps. I propose that the revival of the impossibility debate sparked by Internet cases is misguided and that, in fact, the Internet provides the best reason for rejecting impossibility as a bar to prosecuting predators.
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