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Kingsley International Pictures Corp. v. Regents of the University of the State of New York

360 U.S. 684 (1959)

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Kingsley International Pictures Corp. v. Regents of the University of the State of New York

United States Supreme Court

360 U.S. 684 (1959)

Facts

A New York law required anyone who wished to distribute a motion picture to first obtain a license from the state education department. The law also prohibited a license from issuing if the motion picture depicted sexual immorality. Kingsley International Pictures Corporation (Kingsley) (plaintiff), a distributor, sought and was denied a license for its motion picture Lady Chatterley’s Lover because the Motion Picture Division of the New York Education Department found three scenes in the film immoral within the meaning of the New York law. Kingsley petitioned the Regents of the University of the State of New York (Regents) (defendant) for a review of that ruling. The Regents upheld the department’s denial of the license but on broader grounds that the entire theme of the film—adultery—was immoral under the law because it presented adultery as a desirable, acceptable, and proper pattern of behavior. The New York Court of Appeals unanimously rejected any notion that the film was obscene but cited the provision of the law that required the department to deny a license to films that are immoral or portray acts of sexual immorality as desirable, acceptable, or proper patterns of behavior. Kingsley appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

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