Kingsley Books, Inc. v. Brown 354 U.S. 436 (1957)
KINGSLEY BOOKS, INC. v. BROWN 354 U.S. 436 (1957)
Kingsley authorized broad civil remedies to control the merchandising of obscenity. The Supreme Court upheld a New York statute permitting state officials to obtain in-junctions against the sale of allegedly obscene materials before a judicial determination that the materials were obscene and, after trial, to seize and destroy any material found to be obscene. Rejecting assertions that the statutory scheme was an unconstitutional prior restraint, the majority concluded that the scheme in actual application did not differ from the criminal remedies sanctioned in Alberts v. California (1957), decided the same day. (See roth v. united states.)
The dissenters argued that numerous procedural defects rendered the statute unconstitutional. The seizure and destruction of the obscene books were tantamount to "book burning," according to Chief Justice earl warren, for books were judged outside the context of their use. Justices william o. douglas and hugo l. black, jointly dissenting, argued that an injunction before trial was censorship. They also would have required a finding of obscenity for each publication of the condemned work rather than regulating speech like "diseased cattle and impure butter." Justice william j. brennan contended that the statute was vastly defective for permitting a judge, rather than a jury, to determine a work's obscenity.
Kim Mc Lane Wardlaw