In this case, the Supreme Court held that erotic and sexually explicit depictions of children, whether obscene or indecent, have no protection under the First Amendment.
The state of New York, like nineteen other states, had a statute that criminalized the dissemination of materials depicting the sexual conduct of children under the age of sixteen, regardless of whether the material satisfied the legal definition of obscenity established by the Supreme Court in Miller v. California
The Court unanimously upheld Ferber’s conviction in the lower New York court. Justice Byron R. White
Concluding that government has more discretion to prosecute child pornography than is true of adult pornography, White concluded that the standards may be less rigorous than the three-pronged test of the earlier Miller decision. He insisted, nevertheless, that state laws must clearly and explicitly define which kinds of photographs, films, and conduct are illegal. In a brief concurrence, Justice William J. Brennan,
Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
Obscenity and pornography
Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California