THE SUPREME COURT: On Sex & Obscenity

"Sex." wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, has "indisputably been a subject of absorbing interest to mankind through the ages." But sex and obscenity, he pointed out, are not synonymous—and there has been plenty of disagreement about when the subject of absorbing interest becomes one of prurient*interest. It was in a first major attempt to settle that issue that the Supreme Court, in a split decision, last week upheld U.S. and California criminal obscenity statutes.

Before the court were the combined cases of 1) New York Trashmonger Samuel Roth, convicted...

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