Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

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JACOBELLIS v. OHIO 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

The Supreme Court reversed Jacobellis's conviction for possessing and exhibiting an obscene motion picture, finding the movie not obscene under roth v. united states (1957). Justice william j. brennan's plurality opinion announced two significant constitutional developments and presaged a third. First, in any case raising the issue whether a work was obscene, the Court would determine independently whether the material was constitutionally protected. Second, in judging the material's appeal to prurient interests against "contemporary community standards," courts were to apply a national standard, not the standards of the particular local community from which the case arose. Finally, purporting to apply standards based on Roth and foreshadowing his opinion in memoirs v. massachusetts (1965), Brennan noted that a work could not be proscribed unless it was "utterly' without social importance."

Jacobellis is best known, however, for Justice potter j. stewart's concurring opinion. Contending that only hard-core pornography constitutionally could be proscribed, Stewart declined to define the material that term included, stating only, "I know it when I see it."

Kim m c Lane Wardlaw

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Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

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