Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton

PETITIONER: Paris Adult Theatre I
LOCATION: Paris Adult Theater

DOCKET NO.: 71-1051
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Georgia

CITATION: 413 US 49 (1973)
ARGUED: Oct 19, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1973

Robert Eugene Smith - Argued the cause for the petitioners
Thomas E. Moran - Argued the cause for the respondents

Facts of the case

State officials in Georgia sought to enjoin the showing of allegedly obscene films at the Paris Adult Theatre. The Theatre clearly warned potential viewers of the sexual nature of the films and required that patrons be at least 21 years of age. The Georgia Supreme Court held that the films were "hard core" pornography unprotected by the Constitution.


Did the Georgia injunction against the films violate the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression?

Media for Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 19, 1972 in Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in 71-1051, Paris Theatre against Slaton.

Mr. Smith.

Robert Eugene Smith:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case originated in the City of Atlanta when the respondents filed a complaint seeking in essence a declaratory judgment and injunction to prohibit of the showing of two movies.

This comes about because the theatre, the Paris Adult Theatre, had two separate sections to it where separate films were being shown and one would walk in to the cashier and go in one or go in the other.

Potter Stewart:

There was a common lobby and --

Robert Eugene Smith:

Common lobby, yes sir.

And then the door would open to the particular film they wanted to go see.

The complaint filed by the prosecutor, by the prosecution or the respondents in this case sought a temporary injunction to stop the showing of the film pending the hearing on the permanent injunction.

Fortuitously, the Judge did not sign that broad of a temporary restraining order merely to sought to stop the petitioners in this case from taking the films out of the jurisdiction or altering, or removing them.

A hearing was scheduled in January and ultimately on January 13th, 1971 the films were produced.

Their evidence produced before the Court indicated that this theatre had its outside was painted so that no one could see inside and there were several legends on the windows, to the extent for adults only, you must be 21 and be able to prove it.

If viewing the nude body offends you, do not enter.

The fore warning of the character of the material which one might expect to find therein was clearly stated on the outside.

The prosecution at the time of the presentation of its case, brought in several witnesses who had viewed the movie.

These were investigators in the office of the Solicitor, and they indicated that these films showed explicit sexual acts of cunnilingual, fellatio, and intercourse.

The Trial Judge, after viewing the movies found they did not show these explicit acts.

They were simulated.

The Supreme Court of Georgia said, “Well, it doesn’t leave really much to the imagination and its close enough.

And besides, we thought the acts which in essence were simulated in I Am Curious (Yellow), that this is the same kind of thing, we thought was obscene in I Am Curious (Yellow), and the Supreme Court of United States has not reversed in that case, and so as far as we are concerned, this is hardcore pornography.”

That was just the title they threw on it.

Even though there were no explicit sexual acts consummated in this particular film, sort of in a sense of the language of this Court in Rabe versus Washington, when it was talking about certain types of films.

The Court as I said issued its order and held these were not hardcore pornography, that there were no minors involved, and that as far as the Court was concerned, they were tasteless, vulgar, childish, unimaginative, boring, but as far its concern, it was protected by the constitution.

The State Supreme Court reversed and we are here on this issue.

We pointed out initially in our brief that the procedural -- there were no procedural guidelines for this taking process in the State.

There is no statute that permits this, there is no authority, no judicial construction that will say, that as far as the Court will hear it on a certain day, the Court will decide within a certain number of days as to its decision in this particular matter.

We say the procedural safeguards are lacking.

They are not there, but yet the state has or been allowed to do it in this manner.

But more importantly, we’d like to direct their argument to the question suggested by this Court with regard to the display of sexually oriented films.

My brother in his brief would interpret the terminology, any sexually oriented films as meaning obscene films.