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The Burger Court (1969–86)

First Amendment

How did the Burger Court deal with obscenity law?

The Burger Court formulated a new standard for obscenity cases in Miller v. California (1973). Chief Justice Warren Burger’s opinion established a new three-part test to guide jurors in obscenity cases. The three-prong test provided that material is obscene if: “(a) the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”



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