Marvin Miller was convicted of violating California’s criminal obscenity law when he sent unsolicited mailings advertising the availability of some dirty books and a movie. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld his conviction.

This is one of several cases from this era where the Court had a hard time defining the limits of free speech under the First Amendment. In this case, the majority attempted, once again, to weigh the interests of free speech rights versus “other important government interests.”

The dissent correctly points out that the First Amendment contains no such “weighing” apparatus. The majority spent pages and pages explaining how the constitutional requirement that the government “shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech” does not really mean what it says. We discuss it.


The case itself: Miller v. California (1973)

Here is some real obscenity: The U.S. Debt Clock

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