The Warren Court (1953–69)

Freedom of Expression

In what decision did the Warren Court protect the movie Lady Chatterleys Lover?

The Warren Court ruled in Kingsley International Pictures Corp. v. Regents of the University of New York (1959) that New York state officials violated the First Amendment by refusing to grant a license for the distribution of the movie Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The state argued that the film could be prohibited because it dealt with and even supported the immoral theme of adultery. The Supreme Court rejected the state’s justification:

What New York has done, therefore, is to prevent the exhibition of a motion picture because that picture advocates an idea—that adultery under certain circumstances may be proper behavior. Yet the First Amendment’s basic guarantee is of freedom to advocate ideas. The State, quite simply, has thus struck at the very heart of constitutionally protected liberty.


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