A Book Named “John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” v. Attorney General of Massachusetts

383 U.S. 413 (1966)

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A Book Named “John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” v. Attorney General of Massachusetts

United States Supreme Court
383 U.S. 413 (1966)

Facts

The Attorney General of Massachusetts brought a civil equity suit to have the book Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (commonly known as Fanny Hill) declared obscene. State law required that such actions be directed against the book by name, and that an order to show cause why the book should not be judicially determined to be obscene be published in a daily newspaper and sent by registered mail to all persons interested in the publication. The required order was published in a Boston daily newspaper, and a copy of the order was sent by registered mail to G.P. Putnam’s Sons, the alleged publisher and copyright holder of the book. The publisher intervened on behalf of the book but did not claim its right to have the obscenity issue tried by a jury. The trial court, after assessing both sides’ evidence, adjudged the book obscene and declared that it was not entitled to constitutional protections under the First or Fourteenth Amendments. The Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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