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The Burger Court (1969–86)

First Amendment

CourtSpeak: Jenkins v. Georgia Obscenity Case (1974)

Justice William Rehnquist (unanimous): “Our own viewing of the film satisfies us that ‘Carnal Knowledge’ could not be found under the Miller standards to depict sexual conduct in a patently offensive way. Nothing in the movie falls within either of the two examples given in Miller of material which may constitutionally be found to meet the ‘patently offensive’ element of those standards, nor is there anything sufficiently similar to such material to justify similar treatment. While the subject matter of the picture is, in a broader sense, sex, and there are scenes in which sexual conduct including ‘ultimate sexual acts’ is to be understood to be taking place, the camera does not focus on the bodies of the actors at such times. There is no exhibition whatever of the actors’ genitals, lewd or otherwise, during these scenes. There are occasional scenes of nudity, but nudity alone is not enough to make material legally obscene under the Miller standards.”



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