• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court strengthened the protection of freedom of speech by restricting the scope of what was obscene.

Writing for a six-vote majority, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.,Brennan, William J., Jr.;Memoirs v. Massachusetts[Memoirs v. Massachusetts] ruled that each of the three elements of the national obscenity test announced in Roth v. United States[case]Roth v. United States[Roth v. United States] (1957) had to be met for a book to be declared obscene. John Cleland’s eighteenth century erotic classic, Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure[case]Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Cleland)[Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure] (1749), which was reprinted during the 1960’s, dealt with a prostitute’s sexual adventures and had been judged obscene in the early 1800’s. However, because it did not meet all three Roth tests, it could not be banned. This decision strengthened the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech by restricting the government’s power to ban allegedly obscene materials to only those cases in which the three tests of Roth could be satisfied simultaneously.Obscenity and pornography;Memoirs v. Massachusetts[Memoirs v. Massachusetts]

First Amendment speech tests

Obscenity and pornography

Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California

Speech and press, freedom of

Stanley v. Georgia

Categories: History