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Author of recordkeeping law for pornographers applauds 6th Circuit decision

ADF President Alan Sears authored law recommended by pornography commission under U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III
Published On: 10/18/2017
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit made the right call Friday in upholding a law that requires pornographers to keep records documenting the names and ages of people who appear in photos of sexual activity, according to Alan Sears, the law's author.  Sears is now president, CEO, and general counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund.


"Children should not be fodder for the profits and perverse desires of pornographers," said Sears. "Today's ruling once again affirms that no conflict exists between the protections of the First Amendment and this law, which simply exists to protect our nation's most vulnerable citizens: our children."

The 1988 recordkeeping law was strongly recommended by the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, for which Sears served as executive director during the Reagan Administration.  In addition to authoring the law, Sears testified before both branches of Congress in support of it and made many media appearances along with former commissioner Dr. James Dobson, who later became a co-founder of ADF.

The number one recommendation of the commission for changes in federal law relating to protecting children was the recordkeeping requirement, which was part of the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988.  The simple provision said that pornographers who take photos of people engaged in sex acts must keep records of their names and ages to prove they are not minors.

A full panel of the 6th Circuit upheld the law after a three-judge panel ruled it unconstitutional in October 2007.

In its opinion Friday, the court wrote, "Congress singled out these types of pornography for regulation...because doing so was the only way to ensure that its existing ban on child pornography could be meaningfully enforced.  That objective not only is independent of the content of the regulated speech, but it also is a concern of the highest order, one that relates to a category of speech that the government may regulate, indeed completely suppress, based on its content."

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.    

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