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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 99465 Find in a Library
Title: Obscenity and Pornography - The Law Under the First Amendment
Author(s): D S Moretti
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 149
Sponsoring Agency: Saturday Review Press
New York, NY 10003
Sale Source: Saturday Review Press
201 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This discussion of modern obscenity law focuses on the development and application of the current definition of obscenity as well as areas of society where the U.S. Supreme Court has found that material need not be obscene to be prohibited.
Abstract: A historical review of obscenity law begins with the English case, Regina v. Hicklin (1968), which established a strict test for obscenity that was later adopted in the United States. This test permitted courts to view isolated passages of a book and judge them according to their harmful effects upon the most susceptible individuals. By the 1950's, the application of obscenity law varied considerably throughout the United States and was ripe for adjudication by the Supreme Court. A summary of Roth v. United States (1957), the first Supreme Court case which ruled that obscenity was not protected by the first amendment, covers the test for obscenity, the dissenting opinions, and the decision's benefits and shortcomings. In essence, Roth rejected the Hicklin test and seemed to impose a more flexible standard. The book then discusses the Court's modifications on the Roth test, as well as variations in its applications. Decisions made in 1973 which more clearly defined the obscenity standard are highlighted: Miller v. California, Paris Adult Theatre v. Slaton, and Kaplan v. California. Also examined are the Court's views on the effect of pornography on its viewers, child pornography, and pornography in radio and television where the law requires a higher level of decency than in printed works. The application of pornography law to cable television and motion pictures is considered, along with the effectiveness and constitutionality of zoning ordinances passed to eliminate pornography. The book concludes that as long as children are not involved, the courts generally will strive to permit the exhibition or publication of pornographic material. When children are involved, courts will strive to ban the material. The appendixes contain related laws, a list of banned movies, a model cable pornography statute, a bibliography, and an index.
Index Term(s): Child Pornography; Freedom of speech; Pornography; US Supreme Court decisions
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