Opinions & Commentaries

Overruled

Complainant directs its argument to three propositions: (1) The statute in controversy imposes an unlawful burden on interstate commerce; (2) it violates the freedom of speech and publication guaranteed by § 11, art. 1, of the constitution of the State of Ohio;[1] and (3) it attempts to delegate legislative power to censors and to other boards to determine whether the statute offends in the particulars designated.

READ MORE


The issue here is the constitutionality, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, of a New York statute which permits the banning of motion picture films on the ground that they are "sacrilegious." That statute makes it unlawful "to exhibit, or to sell, lease or lend for exhibition at any place of amusement for pay or in connection with any business in the state of New York, any motion picture film or reel [with specified exceptions not relevant here], unless there is at the time in full force and effect a valid license or permit therefor of the education department. . . ."[1] The statute further provides:

"The director of the [motion picture] division [of the education department] or, when authorized by the regents, the officers of a local office or bureau shall cause to be promptly examined every motion picture film submitted to them as herein required, and unless such film or a part thereof is obscene, indecent, immoral, inhuman, sacrilegious, or is of such a character that its exhibition would tend to corrupt morals or incite to crime, shall issue a license therefor. If such director or, when so authorized, such officer shall not license any film submitted, he shall furnish to the applicant therefor a written report of the reasons for his refusal and a description of each rejected part of a film not rejected in toto."[2]
Appellant is a corporation engaged in the business of distributing motion pictures. It owns the exclusive rights to distribute throughout the United States a film produced in Italy entitled "The Miracle." On November 30, 1950, after having examined the picture, the motion picture division of the New York education department, *498 acting under the statute quoted above, issued to appellant a license authorizing exhibition of "The Miracle," with English subtitles, as one part of a trilogy called "Ways of Love."[3] Thereafter, for a period of approximately eight weeks, "Ways of Love" was exhibited publicly in a motion picture theater in New York City under an agreement between appellant and the owner of the theater whereby appellant received a stated percentage of the admission price.

READ MORE


346 U.S. 587 (1954) SUPERIOR FILMS, INC. v. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OF OHIO, DIVISION OF FILM CENSORSHIP, HISSONG, SUPERINTENDENT.   No. 217. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued January 6, 1954. Decided January 18, 1954. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO.[*]John C. Harlor argued the cause for appellant in No. 217. With him on the brief were F. J. Wright and Michael Gesas. Earl F. Morris was also of counsel. Florence Perlow Shientag argued the cause for appellant in No. 274. With her on the brief was Philip J. O’Brien, Jr. C. William O’Neill, Attorney General of Ohio, […]

READ MORE


Once again the Court is required to consider the impact of New York's motion picture licensing law upon First Amendment liberties, protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from infringement by the States. Cf. Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, 343 U. S. 495.

READ MORE


Petitioner challenges on constitutional grounds the validity on its face of that portion of § 155-4[1] of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago which requires submission of all motion pictures for examination prior to their public exhibition. Petitioner is a New York corporation owning the exclusive right to publicly exhibit in Chicago the film known as "Don Juan." It applied for a permit, as Chicago's ordinance required, and tendered the license fee but refused to submit the film for examination. The appropriate city official refused to issue the permit and his order was made final on appeal to the Mayor. The sole ground for denial was petitioner's refusal to submit the film for examination as required. Petitioner then brought this suit seeking injunctive relief ordering the issuance of the permit without submission of the film and restraining the city officials from interfering with the exhibition of the picture. Its sole ground is that the provision of the ordinance requiring submission of the film constitutes, on its face, a prior restraint within the prohibition of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the grounds, inter alia, that neither a substantial federal question nor even a justiciable controversy was presented. 180 F. Supp. 843. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the case presented merely an abstract question of law since neither the film nor evidence of its content was submitted. 272 F. 2d 90. The precise question at issue here never having *45 been specifically decided by this Court, we granted certiorari, 362 U. S. 917 (1960).

READ MORE


378 U.S. 184 (1964) JACOBELLIS v. OHIO.     No. 11. Supreme Court of United States.    Argued March 26, 1963. Restored to the calendar for reargument April 29, 1963. Reargued April 1, 1964. Decided June 22, 1964. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO.*185 Ephraim London reargued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Bennet Kleinman and Martin Garbus.John T. Corrigan reargued the cause and filed a brief for appellee. Bernard A. Berkman, Jack G. Day and Melvin L. Wulf filed a brief for the American and Ohio Civil Liberties Unions, as amici curiae, urging reversal. […]

READ MORE


Appellant sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Maryland motion picture censorship statute, Md. Ann. Code, 1957, Art. 66A, and exhibited the film "Revenge at Daybreak" at his Baltimore theatre without first submitting the picture to the State Board of Censors as required by § 2 thereof.[1] The State concedes that the picture does not violate the statutory standards[2] and *53 would have received a license if properly submitted, but the appellant was convicted of a § 2 violation despite his contention that the statute in its entirety unconstitutionally impaired freedom of expression. The Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed, 233 Md. 498, 197 A. 2d 232, and we noted probable jurisdiction, 377 U. S. 987. We reverse.

READ MORE


Appellants are an exhibitor and the distributor of a motion picture named "Viva Maria," which, pursuant to a city ordinance, the Motion Picture Classification Board of the appellee City of Dallas classified as "not suitable for young persons." A county court upheld the Board's determination and enjoined exhibition of the film without acceptance by appellants of the requirements imposed by the restricted classification. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals affirmed,[1] and we noted probable jurisdiction, 387 U. S. 903, to consider the First and Fourteenth Amendment issues raised by appellants with respect to appellee's classification ordinance.

READ MORE


Petitioners are two Atlanta, Georgia, movie theaters and their owners and managers, operating in the *51 style of "adult" theaters. On December 28, 1970, respondents, the local state district attorney and the solicitor for the local state trial court, filed civil complaints in that court alleging that petitioners were exhibiting to the public for paid admission two allegedly obscene films, contrary to Georgia Code Ann. § 26-2101.[1] The two films in question, "Magic Mirror" and "It All Comes Out in the End," depict sexual conduct characterized *52 by the Georgia Supreme Court as "hard core pornography" leaving "little to the imagination."Respondents' complaints, made on behalf of the State of Georgia, demanded that the two films be declared obscene and that petitioners be enjoined from exhibiting the films. The exhibition of the films was not enjoined, but a temporary injunction was granted ex parte by the local trial court, restraining petitioners from destroying the films or removing them from the jurisdiction. Petitioners were further ordered to have one print each of the films in court on January 13, 1971, together with the proper viewing equipment.

READ MORE


Help FIRE protect the speech rights of students and faculty.

Support FIRE
css.php