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Jenkins v. Georgia


Chief Justice Rehnquist wanted to establish a consistent standard for obscenity, so that the Supreme Court would not have to review so many individual cases; however, Jenkins v. Georgia made it clear that the Court had not yet discovered such a standard. Some of the justices, who were critical of all anti-obscenity laws, saw this case as proof that the Court would never be able to set forth a consistent standard.

One of the most important rights set out in the U.S. Constitution is freedom of speech. This right is guaranteed by the First Amendment, which says, "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . . " However, people interpret the First Amendment in different ways. Some people believe that "no law" means just that--no law. Others believe that some kinds of speech, or "expression," can be limited. For example, they believe that the First Amendment allows laws against obscenity. Jenkins v. Georgia illustrates how difficult it is to create laws that will prevent obscenity while still preserving the First Amendment.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Jenkins v. Georgia - Significance, "i Know It When I See It", An "obscenely Boring" Film, Defining Obscenity