First Amendment Library:
William I. Cowin

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Overruled

Massachusetts declared Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, an erotic novel published in 1750, to be legally obscene under the test articulated by the Supreme Court in Roth v. United States (1957). However, upon review, the Supreme Court found error in their application of the Roth test. Roth required a work to appeal as a whole to a prurient interest, be patently offensive, and be utterly without redeeming social value. Because the book had been found to have some redeeming social value, even if slight, this was enough to save the work from being declared legally obscene.

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