The Law: Censoring the Censors

Although the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and press, the Supreme Court has held that certain kinds of expression, such as obscenity, are unworthy of protection. But if this makes some censorship permissible, what limits should the court place on the censor's power?

The court has long protected books and newspapers from "prior restraint" —from any censorship that would affect them before they reach the public. But the court puts movies in a special category because of their graphic nature and "capacity for evil." Thus in 1961, the court narrowly upheld the power of Chicago's police commissioner to precensor all movies...

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