Roth V. United States

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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A paper on the Roth v. United States case could in fact be an in-depth look at the single word "prurient". That word stands alone as the deciding factor of the Supreme Court's important decision. Within every line of the court's decision are words and phrases that can be picked apart to support any point of the freedom of speech that we value so much. Many have viewed that somewhat vague definition of illegal speech as a loophole that would allow defamation of individuals and the spread of dangerous propaganda. Supreme Court Justice Brennan set out to demolish any such notion with his decision.

The Constitutional issue began in New York, during the late 1950's, where Roth had a publishing business. There is a federal obscenity statute that sites many different aspects of mail to be considered "nonmailable". If such items were to be distributed through the mail, then the convicted would be facing a maximum find of $5,000 and/or no more than five years in jail.

(Brennan) Roth advertised, through the mail, photographs and magazines and was charged with violating the federal obscenity statute. For the purpose of this paper, Roth's publishing company can be looked at as a supplier of pornographic material. That is the reason Mr. Roth was convicted of 4-counts of mailing obscene material. Roth appealed the conviction, but the ruling was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case was able to be brought all the way to the Supreme Court because of the importance of the issue at the time. Roth had challenged a very important part of the First Amendment, what specifically is protected within the realm of our freedom of speech. The federal obscenity statute determined that "every obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy book, pamphlet, picture, paper, letter, writing, print,