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American Booksellers Association, Inc. v. Hudnut

Citation. 771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985).
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Citation. 771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985).

Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of a local pornography statute, arguing it discriminated against women.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Under the First Amendment, the government may not restrict speech because of its message or ideas.


Indianapolis passed a pornography ordinance. The ordinance contained several prohibitions, including prohibition on trafficking pornography, coercing others into performing pornographic works, or forcing pornography on anyone. Anyone injured by someone who had seen or read pornography had a right of action against the maker or seller. Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance, arguing it violated its members’ First Amendment rights.


Whether the Indianapolis pornography ordinance violates the First Amendment.


Yes. The Indianapolis pornography ordinance violates the First Amendment.


The ordinance fails because it not only restricts obscene speech, as set forth under Miller, but it also restricts speech protected under the First Amendment. The Court sometimes balances the value of speech against the costs of its restriction, but it does this by category of speech, not by the content of particular works. Here, Indianapolis has created an approved point of view with no reference to literary, artistic, political, or scientific value and so loses the support of our precedent cases. Judgement affirmed.

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