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Supreme Court won't intervene in Net obscenity case

Justices uphold a ruling that dismissed an art photographer's objections to the Communications Decency Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court has effectively sidestepped new standards for online obscenity, ruling without comment Monday to affirm a decision issued last July in New York. That special three-judge panel had declined to overturn disputed portions of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 federal law that makes it a crime to send obscene materials knowingly to minors via the Internet.

The law, which is no stranger to court scrutiny, had come in 2001 from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Barbara Nitke, an art photographer whose work focuses on sexually explicit subject matter, including sadomasochistic behavior. The parties had argued some provisions were "substantially overbroad" and violated free speech rights, but the court decided they had not supplied sufficient evidence to justify striking them down.