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Kingsley Books, Inc. v. Brown

United States Supreme Court
354 U.S. 436 (1957)


Under § 22-a of the New York Code of Criminal Procedure, a city official may file for an injunction to prevent the distribution of obscene and lewd materials. After the official files for the injunction and gives notice to the distributor, there must be a trial within one day to adjudicate whether the material is obscene. Afterward, a permanent injunction enjoining the dissemination of the material may be granted. Kingsley Books, Inc. and other bookstore owners (defendants) sold a series of lewd books under the general title of Nights of Horror. A city official (plaintiff) filed for an injunction to enjoin the future sale of the books and destroy any existing copies. The defendants did not contest the filing. The trial judge found that the books were obscene and enjoined the future distribution of the books. However, the judge refused to enjoin the future distribution of subsequent issues in the Nights of Horror series, finding that such an injunction would be an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech. The defendants appealed the injunction.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Frankfurter, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

Dissent (Douglas, J.)

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