Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton Case Brief

Why is the case important?

This is an appeal by an owner of two adult theatres that explicitly warned viewers that the content of its movies may be offensive and required all viewers to be twenty-one years of age. The owner was enjoined from showing his movies by the state supreme court.

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.”

Question

Did the injunction against the showing of the films violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?

Answer

Maybe not. Judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia vacated and remanded for further proceedings. Nothing precludes the state of Georgia from the regulation of the allegedly obscene material exhibited in this case, provided that the applicable Georgia law, as written or authoritatively interpreted by the Georgia courts, meets First Amendment constitutional standards. State legislatures may conclude that a sensitive key relationship of human experience can be debased by crass commercialization of sex. A man’s right to privacy exists within his home and thus, he may enjoy obscene materials within his private abode, but if he wants to obtain obscene materials in the public market and to foregather in public places, that would affect everybody. Therefore, a state has a legitimate interest in regulating commerce of obscene material and in regulating exhibition of obscene material in places of public accommodation, including so-called adult theatres from which minors are excluded.

Conclusion

“The Court vacated and remanded. As obscene material was not protected by the First Amendment and as the state procedure provided adequate due process, the Court upheld a ruling that obscene materials did not acquire constitutional immunity from regulation simply because they were shown only to consenting adults. As there were legitimate state interests at stake in regulating the films, scientific data demonstrating damage from exposure to the obscene films was unnecessary. The Court rejected the claims that the right to see obscene films was guaranteed by the First Amendment or other constitutional privacy guarantees and that conduct directly involving “”consenting adults”” had a special constitutional status. As the state had a legitimate interest in regulating commerce in obscene material and in regulating public exhibition of obscene films, nothing precluded the regulation of such materials provided that the applicable state law met the First Amendment standards set forth in Miller v. California.”

  • Case Brief: 1973
  • Petitioner: Paris Adult Theatre I
  • Respondent: Slaton
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 413 US 49 (1973)
Argued: Oct 19, 1972
Decided: Jun 21, 1973