• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that a French film was not obscene and could not be banned but was divided as to its reasoning.

Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.,Brennan, William J., Jr.;Jacobellis v. Ohio[Jacobellis v. Ohio] wrote the opinion for the 5-3 majority, which held that a particular French film was not obscene by national standards and could not be banned obscene or not without violating freedom of expression. In his opinion, Brennan stated that the “community standards” used to determine obscenity were those of “society at large.” In addition, to be obscene, material must be “utterly without redeeming social importance.” Although Brennan wrote the majority opinion, all eight justices wrote either concurring or dissenting opinions. Justice Brennan and Justices Potter Stewart and Arthur J. Goldberg determined that the film was not obscene. In his opinion, Justice Stewart said he found it difficult to define obscenity; however, he stated, “I know it when I see it.” Justices Hugo L. Black and William O. Douglas had no opinion on whether the film was obscene or not; however, they found that it would violate the First Amendment to ban the file regardless of the question of obscenity. Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justices Tom C. Clark and John M. Harlan II dissented, finding the film obscene. Justice Byron R. White did not participate in the decision.Obscenity and pornography;Jacobellis v. Ohio[Jacobellis v. Ohio]

Censorship

First Amendment

Memoirs v. Massachusetts

New York v. Ferber

Obscenity and pornography

Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California

Stanley v. Georgia

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