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.
Issue. Whether the obscenity presented in this case is prohibited by the applicable state statute?
Held. In sum, the Supreme Court: (a) reaffirmed the Roth holding that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution), (b) held that such material can be regulated by the States, subject to specific safeguards, without a showing that the material is “utterly without redeeming social value and (c) held that obscenity is to be determined by applying “contemporary community standards.” As a result, the majority determined that the material at issue in this case was not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and that the California state statute could regulate the matter. Furthermore, the requirement that a California jury evaluate the materials with reference to “contemporary standards” is constitutionally adequate.
Obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press.View Full Point of Law