Redrup v. State of New York Austin State of Kentucky Gent v. State of Arkansas

Decision Date08 May 1967
Docket Number16,50,Nos. 3,s. 3
PartiesRobert REDRUP, Petitioner, v. STATE OF NEW YORK. William L. AUSTIN, Petitioner, v . STATE OF KENTUCKY. GENT et al., Appellants, v. STATE OF ARKANSAS
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 388 U.S. 924, 87 S.Ct. 2091.

Sam Rosenwein, Burbank, Cal., for petitioner Redrup.

H. Richard Uviller, New York City, for respondent State of New York.

Stanley Fleishman, Hollywood, Cal., for petitioner Austin.

John B. Browning, Frankfort, Ky., for respondent State of Kentucky.

Emanuel Redfield, New York City, for appellant Gent et al.

Fletcher Jackson, Little Rock, Ark., for appellee State of Arkansas.


These three cases arise from a recurring conflict—the conflict between asserted state power to suppress the distribution of books and magazines through criminal or civil proceedings, and the guarantees of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.


In No. 3, Redrup v. New York, the petitioner was a clerk at a New York City newsstand. A plainclothes patrolman approached the newsstand, saw two paperback books on a rack—Lust Pool, and Shame Agent—and asked for them by name. The petitioner handed him the books and collected the price of $1.65. As a result of this transaction, the petitioner was charged in the New York City Criminal Court with violating a state criminal law.1 He was convicted, and the conviction was affirmed on appeal.

In No. 16, Austin v. Kentucky, the petitioner owned and operated a retail bookstore and newsstand in Paducah, Kentucky. A woman resident of Paducah purchased two magazines from a sales-girl in the petitioner's store, after asking for them by name—High Heels, and Spree. As a result of this transaction the petitioner stands convicted in the Kentucky courts for violating a criminal law of that State.2

In No. 50, Gent v. Arkansas, the prosecuting attorney of the Eleventh Judicial District of Arkansas brought a civil proceeding under a state statute3 to have certain issues of various magazines declared obscene, to enjoin their distribution and to obtain a judgment ordering their surrender and destruction. The magazines proceeded against were: Gent, Swank, Bachelor, Modern Man, Cavalcade, Gentleman, Ace, and Sir. The County Chancery Court entered the requested judgment after a trial with an advisory jury, and the Supreme Court of Arkansas affirmed, with minor modifications.4

In none of the cases was there a claim that the statute in question reflected a specific and limited state concern for juveniles. See Prince v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 64 S.Ct. 438, 88 L.Ed. 645; cf. Butler v. State of Michigan, 352 U.S. 380, 77 S.Ct. 524, 1 L.Ed.2d 412. In none was there any suggestion of an assault upon individual privacy by publication in a manner so obtrusive as to make it impossible for an unwilling individual to avoid exposure to it. Cf. Breard v. City of Alexandria, 341 U.S. 622, 71 S.Ct. 920, 95 L.Ed. 1233; Public Utilities Comm'n of District of Columbia v. Pollak, 343 U.S. 451, 72 S.Ct. 813, 96 L.Ed. 1068. And in none was there evidence of the sort of 'pandering' which the Court found significant in Ginzburg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463, 86 S.Ct. 942, 16 L.Ed.2d 31.


The Court originally limited review in these cases to certain particularized questions, upon the hypothesis that the material involved in each case was of a character described as 'obscene in the constitutional sense' in A Book Named 'John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure' v. Attorney General of Com. of Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413, 418, 86 S.Ct. 975, 977, 16 L.Ed.2d 1.5 But we have concluded that the hypothesis upon wic h the Court originally proceeded was invalid, and accordingly that the cases can and should be decided upon a common and controlling fundamental constitutional basis, without prejudice to the questions upon which review was originally granted. We have concluded, in short, that the distribution of the publications in each of these cases is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments from governmental suppression, whether criminal or civil, in personam or in rem.6

Two members of the Court have consistently adhered to the view that a State is utterly without power to suppress, control or punish the distribution of any writings or pictures upon the ground of their 'obscenity.'7 A third has held to the opinion that a State's power in this area is narrowly limited to a distinct and clearly identifiable class of material.8 Others have subscribed to a not dissimilar standard, holding that a State may not constitutionally inhibit the distribution of literary material as obscene unless '(a) the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest in sex; (b) the material is patently offensive because it affronts contemporary community standards relating to the description or representation of sexual matters; and (c) the material is utterly without redeeming social value,' emphasizing that the 'three elements must coalesce,' and that no such material can 'be proscribed unless it is found to be utterly without redeeming social value.' A Book Named 'John Clelands' Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure' v. Attorney General of Com. of Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413, 418—419, 86 S.Ct. 975, 977—978. Another Justice has not viewed the 'social value' element as an independent factor in the judgment of obscenity. Id., at 460—462, 86 S.Ct. 975, 998—999 (dissenting opinion).

Whichever of these constitutional views is brought to bear upon the cases before us, it is clear that the judgments cannot stand. Accordingly, the judgment in each case is reversed. It is so ordered.

Judgments reversed.

Mr. Justice HARLAN, whom Mr. Justice CLARK joins, dissenting.

Two of these cases, Redrup v. New York and Austin v. Kentucky, were taken to consider the standards governing the application of the scienter requirement announced in Smith v. People of State of California, 361 U.S. 147, 80 S.Ct. 215, 4 L.Ed.2d 205, for obscenity prosecutions. There it was held that a defendant criminally charged with purveying obscene material must be shown to have had some kind of knowledge of the character of such material; the quality of that knowledge, however,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
311 cases
  • People v. Kuhns
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • September 8, 1976 the statute. (See Kois v. Wisconsin (1972) 408 U.S. 229, 232, 92 S.Ct. 2245, 33 L.Ed.2d 312; and Redrup v. New York (1967) 386 U.S. 767, 770--771, 87 S.Ct. 1414, 18 L.Ed.2d 515, reh. den. 388 U.S. 924, 87 S.Ct. 2091, 18 L.Ed.2d 1377.) On the other hand, it appears that the distribution o......
  • People v. Adler
    • United States
    • California Superior Court
    • March 21, 1972
    ...result is compelled by either People v. Noroff (1967) 67 Cal.2d 791, 63 Cal.Rptr. 575, 433 P.2d 479, or Redrup v. New York (1967) 386 U.S. 767, 87 S.Ct. 1414, 18 L.Ed.2d 515. All that was involved in Noroff, supra, was a nudist magazine which, while displaying the naked male or female inclu......
  • People v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • November 9, 1972
    ...proceeding, yet be free from such taint under a . . . conventional criminal proceeding.' (See also Redrup v. State of New York (1967) 386 U.S. 767, (770), 87 S.Ct. 1414, 18 L.Ed.2d 515 (518).)' The establishment of probable cause that presumptively protected materials may offend a criminal ......
  • Miranda v. Hicks
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Central District of California
    • September 30, 1974
    ...the dismissal question, and perhaps contrast it with the apparent thrust of Justice Harlan's dissent in Redrup v. New York, 386 U.S. 767, 771 (1967) at 772, 87 S.Ct. 1414, 18 L.Ed.2d 515, in which he seemed to embrace the Bickel view and equate dismissal of a writ of certiorari as improvide......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • Table of Cases
    • United States
    • The Path of Constitutional Law Suplemmentary Materials
    • January 1, 2007
    ...1458, 1483-84, 1486-87 Redhead v. Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 440 F.Supp.2d 211 (E.D.N.Y., 2006), 1617 Redrup v. New York, 386 U.S. 767, 87 S.Ct. 1414, 18 L.Ed.2d 515 (1967), 210, Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71, 92 S.Ct. 251, 30 L.Ed.2d 225 (1971), 202, 1164-67, 1179 Page 1704 Reese, U......
  • Pornography and Politics: the Court, the Constitution, and the Commission
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly No. 24-4, December 1971
    • December 1, 1971
    ...Cal. 2d 199 (1966) (preparation of obscene materials for artist’spersonal growth without intent to distribute cannot be made a crime).28 386 U.S. 767 (1967).29 Keney v. New York, 388 U.S. 440 (1967) ; Friedman v. New York, 388 U.S. 441 (1967);Ratner v. California, 388 U.S. 442 ( 1967) ; Cob......
  • Rethinking Democracy
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly No. 63-1, March 2010
    • March 1, 2010 add Minneapolis City Code, Minn., 1st Reading, Nov. 23, 1983.R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minn., 505 U.S. 377 (1992).Redrup v. New York, 386 U.S. 767 (1967).Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557 (1969).Unit......
  • The "strong medicine" of the overbreadth doctrine: when statutory exceptions are no more than a placebo.
    • United States
    • Federal Communications Law Journal Vol. 64 No. 1, December 2011
    • December 1, 2011
    ...(6.) United States v. Miller, 413 U.S. 15, 24 (1973). (7.) See, e.g., Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973); Redrup v. New York, 386 U.S. 767 (1967); Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413 (1966); Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (8.) Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (1964) (Stew......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT