NY v. Ferber Case Brief

Summary of NY v. Ferber

Facts: Seller of child porn films is convicted under a NY penal law forbidding the promotion a sexual performance by a child under 16.

Issue: To prevent the abuse of children who are made to engage in sexual conduct for commercial purposes, is it permissible for the state to ban all material which shows children engaged in sexual conduct, regardless of whether the material is obscene?

Holding: Yes, it is permissible because the state has a strong interest in preventing child abuse.

Reasoning: Five reasons why the state should be allowed greater leeway in this area:

  1. The state has a strong interest in preventing child abuse.
  2. The distribution of child porn is intrinsically related to the sexual abuse of children.
  3. The advertisement of child porn provides an economic motive.
  4. The value of non-obscene material that uses depictions of children involved in sexual acts is negligible (like educational textbooks).
  5. Recognizing and classifying child porn as a category of material outside the protection of the first amendment is not incompatible with earlier decisions.

Judgment: Conviction upheld.


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