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Miller v. California

Law Dictionary
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 413 U.S. 15, 93 S. Ct. 2607, 37 L. Ed. 2d 419, 1973 U.S. 149.

Brief Fact Summary. This is one of a group of “obscenity-pornography” cases being reviewed by the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) in a re-examination of the standards, which must be used to identify obscene material that a State may regulate.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The basic guidelines for a trier of fact in an obscenity matter must be: (a) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.


Facts. In this case, the Appellant, Miller (Appellant), conducted a mass mailing campaign to advertise the sale of illustrated adult material books. The Appellant’s conviction was specifically based on his conduct in causing five unsolicited advertising brochures to be sent through the mail. The brochures consist primarily of pictures and drawings very explicitly depicting men and women in groups of two or more engaging in a variety of sexual activities, with genitals often predominantly displayed. This case thus involves the application of a state’s criminal obscenity statute to a situation in which sexually explicit materials have been thrust by aggressive sales action upon unwilling recipients.

Issue. Whether the obscenity presented in this case is prohibited by the applicable state statute?

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