The federal trial of pornographer John Stagliano began last week. Libertarian National Committee Chairman Mark Hinkle issued the following statement July 15:
"The Obama Administration's prosecution of John Stagliano is a travesty.
"As Reason magazine's Richard Abowitz wrote, 'The case against Stagliano concerns the selling of movies performed by consenting adults to entertain adult DVD viewers who have chosen to watch these films. In a free and open society this is exactly the kind of prosecution that should not happen.'
"Many Americans find it far more obscene that Democrats and Republicans are piling trillions of dollars of debt on our children and grandchildren, in order to further the creation and expansion of bad federal programs. The president should be worrying more about these problems, and less about prosecuting and censoring Mr. Stagliano.
"Different people will have different opinions about how valuable or harmful Mr. Stagliano's products are. Fortunately, no one is forced to watch them.
"Federal anti-obscenity laws are unconstitutional in two ways. First, because the Constitution does not grant Congress any power to regulate or criminalize obscenity. And second, because the First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech.
"In addition, there appear to be serious irregularities in the judge's conduct of the trial. He is reportedly refusing to allow the defense to call expert witnesses; refusing to allow the jurors to see the entirety of the films, even though that is necessary to apply the legal tests required by earlier Supreme Court rulings; and refusing to allow the press to see evidence or the questionnaires that were used in jury selection.
"It is worth noting that this case was not initiated by citizen complaints. FBI agents just purchased the materials, watched them, and then brought charges. It's clear that the FBI budget needs to be cut.
"Apparently President Obama's Justice Department is no different than former President Bush's when it comes to prosecuting speech. Obama has sustained the 'Obscene Prosecution Task Force,' which was created by the Bush Administration in 2005."
The Libertarian Party's platform states, "We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology."
Disclosure: John Stagliano has been a donor to the Libertarian National Committee.