Petitioner was sentenced to six months in prison and fined $3,000 for printing a pamphlet found to be prohibited by the common law of criminal libel in Kentucky. The Kentucky Court of Appeals, with three judges dissenting, affirmed petitioner's conviction. 405 S. W. 2d 562. We granted certiorari (382 U. S. 971) and reverse.

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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. […]

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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.

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