Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, April 24, 2006

Maxwell: Child Pornography Statute Constitutional

In U.S. v. Maxwell, No. 03-14326 (Apr. 20, 2006), the Court reversed its prior decision, 386 F.3d 1042, and held, in light of the Supreme Court’s intervening decision in Gonzalez v. Raich, 125 S.Ct. 2195 (2005), that the child pornography possession statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2252A, was not unconstitutional as applied to Maxwell.
The Court pointed out that in Raich, the Supreme Court held that Congress did not exceed its Commerce Clause authority when it prohibited the local cultivation of marijuana. The Court noted that in Raich, the Supreme Court held that Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself "commercial" if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity. The Court further noted that Raich involved the comprehensive regulation of an economic activity. Based on Raich, the Court found its prior analysis of the child pornography statute to be incorrect. As with marijuana, Congress had moved to comprehensively regulate child pornography. Congress sought to "eliminate the entire market for child pornography."
The Court noted that its task was not to determine whether Congress had made particularized findings regarding whether conduct affected interstate commerce. Rather, the question was whether "the cumulative effect of the conduct by Maxwell and his ilk would substantially affect interstate commerce." Congress could rationally conclude that it would.