Bipartisan statutory fix after SCOTUS Paroline mess for child porn restitution intoduced in Congress
The measure would rewrite a section of the Violence Against Women Act and make it easier for victims of child pornography to be granted "full restitution" from felons who have made, distributed or viewed images of their sexual abuse online.
In Response to Recent Supreme Court Decision, Senators Hatch and Schumer to Introduce Bill to Strengthen the Law for Child Pornography Victims
"Victims of child pornography suffer a unique kind of harm and deserve a unique restitution process, and the Amy and Vicky Act is that solution," Hatch said. "In the Paroline decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the ball was in Congress" court in order to give child pornography victims the tools necessary to seek restitution from those responsible for perpetuating this heinous crime."
James Marsh, a longtime advocate for restitution for child-pornography victims, said the 5-4 April Paroline ruling forces "victims to forever chase defendants and recover next to nothing." The new bill, however, "creates a practical process" that ensures timely restitution for victims and "puts the burden on defendants, where it belongs," he wrote on the Marsh Law Firm's ChildLaw blog
The Supreme Court did not dispute her suffering nor her right to receive restitution from viewers who take pleasure in her abuse and create the sordid market demand for child pornography. But the court set aside the $3.4 million awarded her. Now Congress needs to fix the law.
Amy suffered a breakdown and fell into a deep depression. It is estimated that thousands of individuals around the world are now in possession of photographs of Amy's abuse. As she testified in court, every day "it's like I am being abused over and over again."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Highlights Toomey Effort to Provide Justice for Victims of Child Pornography
The introduction of the "Justice for Amy Act" follows a recent Supreme Court decision which limited the remedies available to victims of child pornography under federal law. The case concerned Pennsylvania resident "Amy," whose childhood was shattered when, at age 9, she was raped and then had those images traded over the Internet.
Because Paul and other "crime victims" groups can be very effective advocates, I certainly believe it may be possible that Congress will respond in some way after Paroline. But if (when?) the Justice Department is disinclined to join the call for statutory reform, I would predict that the post-Paroline status quo is could stay in place for some time.
What is news is that Paroline v. U.S. was the first time in the Court's history that a crime victim was allowed to be represented by her own counsel. Giving child victims a voice in matters that affect them is a universally recognized right. The question now is, "Will Congress listen?"
The conservatives got the law right, Sotomayor got the morality right, and Kennedy - characteristically trying to have it both ways - created a muddle.
While none of the other justices joined her opinion, Sotomayor would have affirmed the Fifth Circuit's en banc majority, granting the victim Amy full restitution. That majority included some conservative stalwarts (such as my former boss, Edith Jones) who aren't often on the same side of divisive issues as the Wise Latina.