WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and 41 Senate colleagues urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to vigorously enforce federal obscenity laws against major distributors of hard core pornography.
“Adult obscenity is increasingly harmful, addictive and associated with domestic violence, sex trafficking and other crimes,” Hatch said. “It harms women, children, families, and communities. Congress has overwhelmingly passed laws to limit the production and distribution of this illegal obscene material. I am deeply concerned that these laws are not being enforced. I am gratified that so many of my colleagues have joined me on this letter to Attorney General Holder, asking him to enforce the anti-obscenity laws that are already on the books.”
In their April 5, 2011, letter, the senators reminded Holder that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment and asked for the Justice Department to work with the FBI to “investigate and prosecute” all major purveyors of adult obscenity.
Pamela Atkinson, chairwoman of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP) lauded the senators for their bipartisan efforts.
“The board of UCAP and its members ardently support Senator Hatch and his colleagues in their noble efforts to protect America’s children and families from the harmful effects of pornography,” she said. “As we see the tremendously negative effects pornography has on our society growing day by day, we respectfully call on all public officials, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, to uphold and enforce the obscenity laws of this country.”
"All American families owe Senator Hatch and his colleagues a great debt of gratitude for their outstanding leadership against the floodtide of pornography and particularly for this effort to get federal laws against illegal adult pornography vigorously enforced," said Patrick Trueman, CEO of Morality in Media and director of the War on Illegal Pornography, a coalition of more than 70 national and state groups whose goal is to stop the distribution illegal pornography.
In addition to circulating this letter among U.S. senators, Hatch has raised this issue in confirmation and oversight hearings for Justice Department officials of both parties.
Click here to view a signed copy of the senators’ letter. The letter to Holder is also below:
Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear General Holder:
We write to urge the Department of Justice vigorously to enforce federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography. To that end, we urge you to direct that the FBI and U.S. Attorneys work together to combat the growing scourge of obscenity in America.
In June 1998, when you served as Deputy Attorney General, you directed U.S. Attorneys to enforce these laws. The need for consistent and vigorous enforcement is even greater today because both obscene pornography and evidence of its harms have multiplied since then. Laws exist to respond to this crisis, but they need to be enforced.
Last June, an important briefing in the Capitol outlined how pornography has changed, becoming more harmful, addictive, and available, and linked to other crimes. Researchers, scholars, and other experts explained, for example, how today’s hardcore pornography is typified by extreme violence against women and how pornography consumption can contribute to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Another expert warned that Internet adult pornography normalizes sexual harm to children, while another addressed the growing connection between pornography and sex trafficking. You should also be aware that the next version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual will include a disorder that encompasses pornography addiction.
Simply put, we know more than ever how illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking. This material harms individuals, families, and communities and the problems are only getting worse. We urge you to study the evidence gathered in such sources as www.pornographyharms.com to more fully understand the crisis and the urgent need for enforcement.
As you know, adult obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. Congress has for decades passed laws seeking to curb the production and distribution of obscene pornography, including on the Internet. A consistent and strong commitment to enforcing these laws can have a significant impact.
We believe it is imperative that the Department, with cooperation by the FBI, investigate and prosecute all major producers and distributors of adult obscenity. We need your leadership.