Pope V. Illinois Obscenity Case Study

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“One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric”-Justice John Marshall Harlan What is value? This question swept the court room in 1987 during the case of Pope v. Illinois. Pope and Morrison, the Petitioners in the case, had been charged with the illegal sale of obscene magazines. They argued that the State of Illinois Obscenity Statute- under which they had been convicted- was unconstitutional because it had allowed the “value” of the magazines to be judged by community standards. In response, Illinois contended that the statute was indeed constitutional because the three elements of the Miller standard were conjoined under community definition of obscenity. To come to a verdict, the Supreme Court used the basis of the Miller Test and past obscenity …show more content…
In 1962, Enterprises v. Day added an additional clause of “patent offensiveness” to the prurient interest test. Justice John Harlan who delivered the majority opinion also urged that the proper test should be based on a national standard due to the difference in ethics and cultures of communities. Two years later, in Jacobellis v. Ohio another aspect was added to the obscenity standard. In the case, the Supreme Court recognized that the barrier between protected and unprotected speech was still uncertain. To resolve this issue, they came to the conclusion that obscenity could be constitutionally regulated because obscene material was without, “redeeming social importance”. As a result of this deduction, a requirement of having no literary, scientific, or artistic value was added to the obscenity standard.
Even with this amplified/elaborated standard, the court was still unable to cap the influx in obscenity cases. In Memoirs v. Massachusetts, a book titled Fanny Hill, had been found to fit the first two characterizations of obscenity, by appealing to prurient interest and being patently offensive. However, the court could find no evidence that the book lacked social value and therefore, could only be labeled obscene if it were marketed for prurient appeal. To further clarify the criteria for obscenity, the court consolidated the definitions derived from prior cases and developed a three-part

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