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Santorum, Romney and Gingrich vow to enforce anti-porn laws

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, February 13, 2012 17:38 EDT
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Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich have all told the group Morality in Media that they would enforce federal obscenity laws that prohibit the distribution of pornography.

Those laws, the anti-pornography group said, are being ignored by the current administration.

“Federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced,” Santorum told the group. “If elected President, I will appoint an Attorney General who will do so.”

Romney told the group it was “imperative that we cultivate the promotion of fundamental family values.”

“This can be accomplished with increased parental involvement and enhanced supervision of our children,” he said in a statement.

“It includes strict enforcement of our nation’s obscenity laws, as well as the promotion of parental software controls that guard our children from Internet pornography.”

Gingrich also said he would appoint an Attorney General who would enforce federal obscenity laws.

Santorum and Gingrich previously signed a pledge by the conservative Christian group The Family Leader in which they vowed to protect women and children from “seduction into promiscuity and all forms of pornography.” But Romney refused to sign, saying the pledge was “undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”

In their 1969 Stanley v. Georgia ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated all state laws that prevented the private possession of “obscene” materials.

However, the court ruled in 1973 that obscene material was not protected by the First Amendment if it appealed “to a prurient interest,” showed “patently offensive sexual conduct, and “lacked serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific value.” Whether material violates those standards is up to a jury to decide, assuming such a case goes to trial.

Social conservatives have been critical of the Obama administration for its alleged lack of obscenity prosecutions.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder folded the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force into the into the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section last year. The Obscenity Prosecution Task Force was set up by the Justice Department during the Bush administration to prosecute producers and distributors of hardcore pornography.

“As the toxic waste of obscenity continues to spread and harm everyone it touches, it appears the Obama administration is giving up without a fight,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Politico.

But the department said it wasn’t ignoring obscenity altogether, rather it was focusing on child pornography and similar crimes.

“The Department has focused its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources on the most egregious cases, particularly those that facilitate child exploitation and cases involving the sexual abuse of children, including obscene depictions of child rape,” Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich said.

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
 
 
 
 
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