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Miller v. California

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

The Petitioner, Miller (Petitioner), was convicted of violating the section of the California state code prohibiting the distribution of obscenity.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Obscenities are works when taken as whole appeal to the prurient interest in sex, which portrays sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and which does not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.


Petitioner mass mailed advertisements for “adult” materials for sale. The recipients of the mailer had in no way indicated that they were interested in receiving such material. A state jury convicted him by characterizing the material as obscene.


Was the advertisement for obscene material?


No. States may regulate materials that are patently representations of sexual acts or descriptions of masturbation, excretory functions, and lewd exhibition of genitals. Only those materials that depict “hardcore,” patently offensive sexual conduct are exempt from 1st Amendment protection.


The Supreme Court of the United States has traditionally recognized the state’s interest in protecting its citizens from offensive and obscene materials. This case specifically defines obscenity based on a local community standard. Basically, all hardcore pornography is considered obscene.

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