Obscenity, Child Pornography, and Indecency: Recent Developments and Pending Issues

Publication Date: June 2004

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Law and ethics



The First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . . ." The First Amendment applies, with two exceptions, to pornography and indecency, with those terms being used to refer to any words or pictures of a sexual nature. The two exceptions are obscenity and child pornography; because these are not protected by the First Amendment, they may be, and have been, made illegal. Pornography and indecency that are protected by the First Amendment may nevertheless be restricted in order to limit minors' access to them.