Times Film Corporation v. City of Chicago

PETITIONER: Times Film Corporation
RESPONDENT: City of Chicago
LOCATION: Alabama General Assembly

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 43 (1961)
ARGUED: Oct 19, 1960 / Oct 20, 1960
DECIDED: Jan 23, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Times Film Corporation v. City of Chicago

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 20, 1960 in Times Film Corporation v. City of Chicago

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 19, 1960 in Times Film Corporation v. City of Chicago

Earl Warren:

Number 34, Times Film Corporation, Petitioner, versus City of Chicago, et al.

Mr. Bilgrey.

Felix J. Bilgrey:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case which is here on certiorari presents a state court an important question, whether or not a municipality may exclude all motion pictures for public view, unless and until they have been first submitted to a censor for the examination and censorship of their contents.

The facts are as follows, the petitioner is engaged in the business of releasing motion pictures nationally.

It has the exclusive right to license in the City of Chicago a motion picture entitled “Don Juan.”

We applied to the commissioner of police who pursuant to the ordinance is to censor for a permit pursuant to the ordinance.

We completed the application and the application was then tendered to the police commissioner with the licensing fee and the police commissioner refused the application on the sole ground that the motion picture itself had not been submitted for censorship.

We then repeated the application to the mayor because the ordinance provides that in case of a denial of a permit, the application may again be made to the mayor and we again make -- made the application for this motion picture.

We've tendered the licensing fee and we again refused to submit the motion picture, and the license was denied exclusively on that particular ground.

We then filed a complaint in the Federal District Court and we alleged diversity of citizenship because the petitioners in New York concerned and we also alleged that the action arises pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments and we also allege that the damages exceed the amount of $10,000.

Now all these facts are admitted by the respondents.

There's no question about facts, and the respondents have further admitted and stipulated that we are prohibited from showing this motion picture in the City of Chicago publicly under the penalties and prosecution pursuant to the provisions of the ordinance.

Earl Warren:

Wasn't that (Inaudible) the petitioners have refused to submit the film before the censor?

Felix J. Bilgrey:

Yes, it was Your Honor.

That's part of the complaint.

Earl Warren:

The character of the picture is not involved.

Felix J. Bilgrey:

The character of the motion picture is not involved in this case Your Honor, Mr. Chief Justice.

Potter Stewart:

Not known, is it?

Charles E. Whittaker:


Felix J. Bilgrey:

It's not -- it's not known.

Charles E. Whittaker:

It -- it isn't, it's just not known, (Voice Overlap).

Felix J. Bilgrey:

It's just not known.

The only thing which is involved is the title which is a part of the application.

Charles E. Whittaker:

Are you entitled then to sue (Inaudible) that this is hardcore pornography?

Felix J. Bilgrey:

Well that is an assumption, which the respondents have now indulged in their brief Your Honor but I don't think that we can assume in the -- in that.

Charles E. Whittaker:

Why not?

Felix J. Bilgrey:

Because the sole reason that the permit was denied was by virtue of the fact that the motion picture had not been presented.

Charles E. Whittaker:

But you refused to.

Felix J. Bilgrey:

Yes, we did, Your Honor.