Case Overview

In 1879, newspaper publisher D.M. Bennett was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to thirteen months of hard labor in Albany prison for violating the Comstock Act. His crime? Officially, it was for mailing a copy of an anti-marriage tract titled “Cupid’s Yokes, or The Binding Forces of Conjugal Life,” which Anthony Comstock considered obscene. In reality, Bennett was targeted because he actively campaigned for the repeal of the Comstock Act in the pages of The Truth Seeker, the freethought magazine he had founded, and for which Roderick Bradford currently serves as chief editor.

We cannot allow the use of Victorian Era laws to undermine the rights of American citizens. That’s why the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression filed a petition on June 17 on behalf of freethought publisher Roderick Bradford, calling on President Joe Biden to posthumously pardon one of the Comstock Act’s prominent victims, D.M. Bennett.

Emblem of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice