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United States v. Williams

United States Supreme Court
553 U.S. 285 (2008)



Michael Williams (Michael) (defendant) entered into a public internet chat room and posted a message offering to exchange sexually explicit images of children with other users in the chat. A Secret Service agent in the same chat room engaged Michael in a private discussion and the two exchanged non-pornographic images of children. Michael claimed to have images of his daughter being molested and offered to send the images to the agent if he could produce other sexually explicit images of children in exchange. When the agent would not produce the requested images, Michael posted a link into the public chat which led to seven sexually explicit images of children ages five to fifteen. After obtaining a search warrant, the Secret Service searched Michael’s home and found twenty-two pornographic images of children. In addition to being charged with possessing child pornography, Michael was charged with pandering child pornography under 18 U.S.C. §2252A(a)(3)(B), which criminalizes the advertising, distribution, or solicitation of child pornography or images that are claimed to be child pornography. Michael pleaded guilty, but reserved the right to challenge his conviction for pandering. The Supreme Court heard the appeal to consider the constitutionality of the pandering conviction.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (Souter, J.)

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