The Supreme Court announced Monday it will consider the constitutionality of a Massachusetts pornography law that makes it a crime to photograph a child in the nude.
The court will hear arguments next term in an appeal by Massachusetts officials of a state court ruling that struck down the law.The law states that it is a crime to allow a child under 18 to "pose or be exhibited in a state of nudity . . . for purpose of visual representation or reproduction in any book, magazine, pamphlet, motion picture film, photograph, or picture."
Douglas Oakes was indicted under the law in January 1985 by a Worcester County Grand jury for taking photographs of his stepdaughter, Laurie Supernor, then 14, with her breasts partially exposed. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
On appeal, the state's highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court, found the law was unconstitutionally overbroad and struck down the conviction and the law.
In other action, the court:
- Let stand a ruling that millions of so-called fixed annuities are subject to federal securities law in a case the insurance industry was watching closely.
The justices, without comment, let stand a ruling that fixed annuities paying fluctuating interest rates may be regulated the same as stocks and bonds.
Fixed annuities traditionally have been regarded as insurance contracts because investors never risk their principal. Annuity holders are assured of receiving the money contributed plus a certain amount of interest in payments made at regular intervals.
- Gave trial judges broad power to deny criminal defendants the lawyer of their choice if a possible conflict of interest exists.
The court also ruled that judges may veto a defendant's choice of lawyers even when the defendant is willing to waive the right to conflict-free legal help.
By a 5-4 vote, the justices upheld the 1984 narcotics-trafficking conspiracy conviction of Mark Wheat, who received and stored large shipments of Mexican marijuana at his Escondido, Calif., home and then distributed the illegal drug to local customers.
- Refused to give emergency treatment to a challenge by California Republicans of congressional district lines they say unfairly dilute the vote of party members.
The justices rejected claims by the GOP that the case must be heard on an expedited basis so that new lines, if required, could be drawn before the 1990 elections.
- Gave states some power to enforce safety codes at federal nuclear production facilities for hazards unrelated to radiation.
The court, in a 6-2 ruling, said a worker injured falling from a scaffold at a nuclear plant in Ohio is entitled to seek a "bonus" compensation award.
- Agreed to decide whether federal employees charged with crimes while on duty may be tried in state courts.
The court will hear arguments next term in the case brought by the government seeking review of a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case stems from incidents involving postal workers driving postal service vehicles in California.
- Agreed to consider overturning the adoption by a Mississippi couple of Choctaw Indian twins.
The justices said they will hear arguments by tribal leaders that state courts lacked the authority to grant the adoption.
- Let stand the convictions of six New York mobsters associated with the Colombo crime syndicate.
The justices refused to review the cases of Carmine Persico, the boss of the Colombo family; his eldest son, Alphonse Persico, and four others. The six were convicted of racketeering in 1986 and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 12 to 39 years.
- Expanded its study of whether payments made to the Church of Scientology by its members may be claimed as federal income tax deductions.