Jacobellis v. Ohio/Concurrence Stewart

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Jacobellis v. Ohio by Potter Stewart
Concurring Opinion
Justice Stewart's concurrence is perhaps the most famous judicial opinion dealing with obscenity, best known for the quotation, "I know it when I see it."
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MR. JUSTICE STEWART, concurring.

It is possible to read the Court's opinion in Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California, 354 U.S. 476, in a variety of ways. In saying this, I imply no criticism of the Court, which, in those cases, was faced with the task of trying to define what may be indefinable. I have reached the conclusion, which I think is confirmed at least by negative implication in the Court's decisions since Roth and Alberts, [1] that, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. [2] I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

Notes[edit]

^ . Times Film Corp. v. City of Chicago, 355 U.S. 35, reversing 244 F.2d 432; One, Incorporated, v. Olesen, 355 U.S. 371, reversing 241 F.2d 772; Sunshine Book Co. v. Summerfield, 355 U.S. 372, reversing 101 U.S.App.D.C. 358, 249 F.2d 114; Manual Enterprises v. Day, 370 U.S. 478 (opinion of HARLAN, J).

^ . Cf. People v. Richmond County News, 9 N.Y.2d 578, 175 N.E.2d 681, 216 N.Y.S.2d 369.