The Supreme Court held, for the first time, that films were a medium for expressing ideas and therefore deserved a degree of protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
The film in question, The Miracle, was an Italian import that told the story of a peasant girl who, after being seduced by a stranger, gave birth to a son she believed to be Jesus Christ. The New York censors ruled that the film was “sacrilegious,” and it was banned from the state. The practice of film censorship had been approved by the Supreme Court in its first ruling on films, Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio
The Court unanimously reversed the 1915 ruling and ruled that the vague concept “sacrilegious” was unacceptable as a standard for prior restraint. Justice Tom C. Clark’s
The prerogative of states to engage in film censorship was further restricted in Roth v. United States
Obscenity and pornography
Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California
Speech and press, freedom of