Freedman v. Maryland Case Brief

Facts of the Case

“Freedman sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Maryland motion picture censorship statute, Md. Ann. Code, 1957, Art. 66A, and exhibited the film “Revenge at Daybreak” at his Baltimore theatre without first submitting the picture to the State Board of Censors as required by § 2 thereof.  The State concedes that the picture does not violate the statutory standards and would have received a license if properly submitted, but the appellant was convicted of a § 2 violation despite his contention that the statute in its entirety unconstitutionally impaired freedom of expression. The Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed.”


Is the proper standard of proof for a civil case of involuntary commitment to a mental health facility whether the evidence presented to the jury was “clear, unequivocal, and convincing”?


“The Court found the Maryland law to be invalid. The Court decision reflected a concern that the statute provides the danger of “unduly suppressing protected expression.” The board was allowed overly broad licensing discretion with a lack of statutory provisions for judicial participation in the the procedure to prohibit a film. The Court established three guidelines as adequate safeguards to protect against the “undue inhibition of protected expression.” These guidelines are to: (1) place the burden of proving the film is unprotected expression on the censors, (2) require judicial determination to impose a valid determination, and (3) require prompt determination “within a specified time period.””

Case Information

Citation: 380 US 51 (1965)
Argued: Nov 19, 1964
Decided: Mar 1, 1965
Case Brief: 1965