Law School Case Brief
Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton - 413 U.S. 49, 93 S. Ct. 2628 (1973)
The right to privacy guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment extends to those only personal rights that can be deemed "fundamental" or "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty." This privacy right encompasses and protects the personal intimacies of the home, the family, marriage, motherhood, procreation, and child rearing. Nothing, however, in the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States intimates that there is any "fundamental" privacy right "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" to watch obscene movies in places of public accommodation.
Pursuant to Georgia law, state officials filed civil complaints in the Superior Court, Fulton County, Georgia, for a declaration that certain movies being shown at several theaters, including respondent the Paris Adult Theatre, I were obscene as defined in a Georgia criminal statute. The suit also sought an injunction against rurther presentation of the films. After a non-jury trial, the trial court concluded that even assuming that the films were "obscene," nevertheless their exhibition was constitutionally permissible since they were exhibited only to consenting adults, Paris Adult Theatre I having given requisite notice to the public of the nature of the films and having afforded reasonable protection against exposure of the films to minors. The Supreme Court of Georgia reversed, holding that the movies were obscene, and that their exhibition at Paris Adult Theatre I could be constitutionally prohibited, even though shown only to consenting adults
Did obscene materials acquire constitutional immunity from regulation simply because they were shown only to consenting adults?
As obscene material was not protected by the First Amendment and as the state procedure provided adequate due process, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the 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.
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