White, J. Patrick
B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)
Department of History
Heard by the Supreme Court in late 1965, Ginzburg v. United States has invited the Court to continue its attempts to define and clarify the limits of the First Amendment protection of materials dealing with sex, specifically the federal statute prohibiting "obscene" materials from the U.S. mails. Although the Court had previous decided in Roth v. U.S. that obscenity was not protected by the Constitution, doubts abounded about the precise definition of "obscenity." The Ginzburg standard was an attempt to solve this problem by adopting what legal experts have called "variable" obscenity, an approach to defining obscenity according to the specific circumstances in which the materials at issue were published and distributed. The variable standard differed significantly from the approach of earlier cases, which had used the "constant" obscenity definition and which had focused solely on the materials while disregarding the setting. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this new standard has been extremely limited.
Ainger, Dennis R., "Ginzburg v. United States : a chapter in the Supreme Court's evolving obscenity standard" (1988). Honors Capstones. 576.
Northern Illinois University
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