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Supreme Court of the United States
December 3-4, 1962, Argued ; February 18, 1963, Decided
[*59] [***587] [**633] MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Rhode Island Legislature created the "Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth," whose members and Executive Secretary are the appellees herein, and gave the Commission inter alia ". . . the duty . . . to educate the public concerning any book, picture, pamphlet, ballad, printed paper or other thing containing obscene, indecent or impure language, or manifestly tending to the corruption of the youth as defined [*60] in sections 13, 47, 48 and 49 of chapter 610 of the general laws, as amended, and to investigate and recommend the prosecution of all violations of said sections . . . ." 1 [****6] The [**634] appellants brought this action in [*61] the Superior Court of Rhode Island (1) to declare the law creating the Commission in violation of the First and [***588] Fourteenth Amendments, and (2) to declare unconstitutional and enjoin the acts and practices of the appellees thereunder. The Superior Court declined to declare the law creating the Commission unconstitutional on its face but granted the appellants an injunction against the acts and practices [****5] of the appellees in performance of their duties. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island affirmed the Superior Court with respect to appellants' first prayer but reversed the grant of injunctive relief. R. I. , 176 A. 2d 393 (1961). 2 Appellants brought this appeal and we noted probable jurisdiction, 370 U.S. 933. 3
Appellants are four New York publishers of paperback books which have for sometime been widely distributed in Rhode Island. Max Silverstein & Sons is the exclusive wholesale distributor of appellants' publications throughout most of the State. The Commission's practice has been to notify a distributor on official Commission stationery that certain designated books or magazines distributed by him had been reviewed by the Commission and had been declared by a majority of its members to be objectionable for sale, distribution or display to youths under 18 years of age. Silverstein had [**635] received at least 35 such notices at the [****7] time this suit was brought. Among [*62] the paperback books listed by the Commission as "objectionable" were one published by appellant Dell Publishing Co., Inc., and another published by appellant Bantam Books, Inc. 4
The typical notice to Silverstein either solicited or thanked Silverstein, in advance, for his "cooperation" with the Commission, usually reminding Silverstein of the Commission's duty to recommend to the Attorney General prosecution of [****8] purveyors of obscenity. 5 Copies of the [*63] lists of "objectionable" publications were circulated to local police departments, and Silverstein was so informed in the notices.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
372 U.S. 58 *; 83 S. Ct. 631 **; 9 L. Ed. 2d 584 ***; 1963 U.S. LEXIS 2094 ****; 1 Media L. Rep. 1116
BANTAM BOOKS, INC., ET AL. v. SULLIVAN ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] APPEAL FROM THE SUPERIOR COURT OF RHODE ISLAND.
Disposition: Reversed and cause remanded.
obscenity, distributors, notices, publishers, regulation, suppression, censorship, youth, safeguards, freedom of expression, circulation, objectionable, sanctions, copies, constitutionally protected, cooperation, condemned, magazine, juvenile delinquency, enforcement officer, appellants', injunctive, nonobscene, orders, Film
Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Obscenity, Criminal Law & Procedure, Search & Seizure, Search Warrants, General Overview, Fundamental Rights, Warrants, Equal Protection, Gender & Sex, Sex Crimes, Obscenity, Elements, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Prior Restraint