« With more SCOTUS opinions coming this week, will April include a sentencing blockbuster? | Main | Interesting Padilla echo in Second Circuit ruling »

April 27, 2010

Eleventh Circuit rejects various constitutional challenges to federal child porn convictions

The Eleventh Circuit has a notable ruling today in US v. Paige, No. 09-13067 (11th Cir. Apr. 27, 2010) (available here), which rejects various constitutional challenges to various federal child porn convictions. Here is how the opinion begins:

Robert D. Paige appeals his convictions for permitting his minor child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(b); and possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B). He also appeals his 180- month total sentence.  Paige argues that § 2251(b) is facially unconstitutional, because Congress exceeded its Commerce Clause authority in enacting the statute.  He also argues that both §§ 2251(b) and 2252A are unconstitutional as applied in his case, because of an insufficient nexus between his conduct and interstate commerce.  Finally, Paige argues that applying 18 U.S.C. § 2251(e)’s 15-year statutory minimum sentence violated the separation of powers doctrine. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

April 27, 2010 at 01:59 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e20133ecff212f970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Eleventh Circuit rejects various constitutional challenges to federal child porn convictions:

Comments

It would be useful in cases like this to know more about the content of the photos. Were they mere nudes or truly carnal depictions that would raise questions about incest as well as child porn?

Of course, either way it's difficult to imagine circumstances in which it would be appropriate for a father to photograph his naked 16-year-old daughter.

But since the girl's father is going away for 15 years it would be nice to think the pictures were truly revolting...as opposed to a horrible misjudgment by some guy who may have believed he was making art.

And describing the photos as "pornographic" doesn't help much.

Naturally we aren't allowed to see the pictures to judge for ourselves if the sentence imposed on a fellow citizen was fitting or unduly harsh. To look at them would be illegal.

More disturbing, though, is was the comical rationale for the application of the Commerce Clause, which if I understood correctly was (one) that the camera used to take the pictures had to have crossed state lines at some point. And, two, that even if pictures are produced and kept within the borders of a single state, the federal government is entitled to presume that somehow, some way the pictures will eventually enter interstate commerce.

Do lawyers ever snicker when they read stuff like that or is the inclination to ridicule silly, over-reaching rules beaten out of them in law school?

Posted by: John K | Apr 28, 2010 10:46:02 AM

Somebody forgot to tell this defendant that the Commerce Clause applies only to economic regulation, not criminal laws. (Which is odd, since Congress's role in regulating the national economy is better supported by the Constitution than its role in exercising a general national police power... but that is more or less the position the SCOTUS has taken.)

Posted by: Anon | Apr 28, 2010 1:06:12 PM

Anon -- Are you saying the Supreme Court was wrong in relying upon the Commerce Clause challenge in Lopez because the Gun Free Zone Act was criminal in nature?

Posted by: Article III Clerk | Apr 28, 2010 1:11:18 PM

There are several interesting facets to this case. First, the issue of jurisdictional nexus is denied on precedent without question, but seemingly only after it was determined that the defendant intended to sell the images on the internet, making the argument moot. Had he not and asserted that he was using them for strictly personal gain, there may have been a deeper investigation into the matter.

His second argument seems to ignore Booker/Fanfan and is again rejected out of hand.

Posted by: NickS - student | May 6, 2010 11:21:15 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB