Obscene Material and First Amendment

Monday, June 12, 2006

Freedom of expression has contributed much to the development and wellbeing of our free society. In the exercise of the First Amendment right to free expression which everyone enjoys, sex may be portrayed, and the subject of sex may be discussed, freely and publicly. Although material is not to be condemned merely because it contains passages or sequences that describe or depict sexual activity, the courts have consistently held that the right to free expression does not extend to material which is obscene.

Obscene depictions of sexual conduct are subject to federal criminal laws regarding importation, transportation and distribution. CEOS works with the 93 United States Attorneys' offices around the country and investigative agencies to enforce these statutes. The United States Supreme Court, in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), established a three-part test for determining whether a depiction is obscene:

1. Whether the average person would find that the work, taken as a whole and applying contemporary community standards, appeals to the prurient interest;

2. Whether the work depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, when applying contemporary community standards; and

3. Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Regardless of the prevalence of sexually explicit images in society, in the media, and on the Internet, the Miller test remains the standard by which depictions of sexual conduct are judged.

More information available HERE

File a complaint HERE
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