Paris Adult Theater I v. Slaton Case Brief

Summary of Paris Adult Theater I v. Slaton, 413 U.S. 49 (1973)

Facts: Pets are two adult theaters and their owners and managers. Certain photographs portrayed the entrances of the theaters that were not offensive and did not include photographs, but signs were visible indicating the nature of the theater’s movies.

Issue(s): Whether state can restrict the commercial exhibition of obscene material in adult theaters?

Holding: Yes, States have a legitimate interest in stemming the flow of commercialized obscenity.

Procedure: State D.Atty and St Ct Solicitor filed civil complaints COA Pets were showing to the public two obscene films for profit. Demanded declaration that films were obscene and enjoin further showings of the films. Trial judge dismissed the complaints. GA S Ct Reversed. USSCt

Rule(s): 1st and 14th Amendments

Rationale: There is an arguable correlation between obscene material and crime. It is not the Ct’s job to resolve empirical uncertainties underlying state legislation, unless the legislation is plainly infringing on Const’l rights.

The sum of experience provides sufficient basis for legislatures to find that family, community, and human relationships are debased and distorted by crass commercial exploitation of sex. Nothing in the Const prevents a state from acting in accord with this experience merely b/c there is a lack of empirical data.

Totally unlimited free will is not allowed in ours nor any other society.

The Right to privacy is diminished in the commercial, public area as opposed to an individual’s expectation of privacy in his home or car. Communication of ideas, not involved w/ individualized R2 Privacy are concerned, just b/c some utterances or thoughts are incidentally affected as a consequence does not stop the State from acting to protect its legit interests.

DISSENT: Ct has failed to formulate a standard that sharpl distinguishes protected from unprotected speech. The outright suppression of obscenity cannot be reconciled with the fundamental principles of the 1st and 14th. If bar the suppression of any sexual oriented material, except children or unconsenting adults are involved, would eliminate uncertainty.

Df’s A: There is no scientific data indicating a link between exposure to obscene material and adverse effects to men, women, or society.

Free will must govern and Govt cannot legitimately invade an individual’s desire to see or acquire obscene plays, movies, or books.

State regulation of access by consenting adults to obscene material violates the Const’ly protected right to privacy enjoyed by Pet’s customers.


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