If you're eight or nine years old and you're raped and your rapist puts the photos on the internet, the United States Supreme Court says, it's wrong to seek compensatory damages from people who share those images even if a FEDERAL APPEALS COURT awards them to you.
In a 5-4 decision, the justices struck a compromise in the case of "Amy," whose images — taken by her uncle when she was 8 and 9 years old — have become some of the most popular on the Internet for traffickers in child pornography..
It's potentially arguable that Sonia Sotomayor's dissenting opinion, say the majority today in their unconscionable decision denying full compensation to a rape victim
whose rapist put up online pictures of what he did to her in her childhood, that having an offender pay the full amount of a court's award is an "unconstitutional, exessive" form of punishment.
The 5-4 decision upholds part of the Violence Against Women Actwhich calls for restitution to victims of child pornography, but it adopts a middle-ground position on how to set the amount. It said those who possess the images must pay something because they have contributed to the abuse.Scalia. Roberts. Thomas. Alito. Kennedy.
“It makes sense to spread the payment among a larger number of offenders in amounts more closely in proportion to their respective causal roles and their own circumstances,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. “This would serve the twin goals of helping the victim achieve eventual restitution for all of her child pornography losses and impressing upon offenders the fact that child pornography crimes, even simple possession, affect real victims.”
His opinion in Paroline vs. United States leaves it to federal judges to decide on the proper amount in each case.
Kennedy, who wrote the opinion.
Kennedy, who's supposed to be the liberal voice on this court.
Care to know what the victim thought? Here's her attorney's take on it.
Justice Sotomayor, who's really not thrilled with her colleagues over their affirmative action decision yesterday,dissented separately from Thomas and Alito.
The victim's uncle raped her; upon conviction he was ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution, because he had photographed her during the abuse and put the photos on the Internet. She found out, and sued. She went to courts around the country seeking damages from those who possessed the images of her rape. One of these was a Texas man named Doyle Paroline. A federal court ruled against her, saying she had no proof Paroline's possession of the photos of her rape as a child contributed to her abuse or caused her to be abused. A New Orleans federal appeals court took the opposite approach and awarded her a total of $3.4 million. The USSC today reversed that judgment, but said some federal judge should assess "fair" damages against Paroline.
Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, filed a dissent from Kennedy's ruling, saying Congress hadn't clearly stated how judges should decide such damages.