Case Overview

Legal Principle at Issue

"The dispositive question is whether obscenity is utterance within the area of protected speech and press."


The Supreme Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.


The defendant operated a mail-order business that mailed circulars, advertisements, and a book that the trial court held to be legally obscene and therefore without First Amendment protection.

Importance of Case

The court rejected the Hicklin test but held that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment. Rather, the Supreme Court affirmed the test used by the trial judge in this case: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.” The Court held obscene materials as “utterly without redeeming social importance.”

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