Massachusetts v. Oakes

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Massachusetts v. Oakes
Court Documents
Concurring Opinion
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

491 U.S. 576

Massachusetts  v.  Oakes

No. 87-1651  Argued: Jan. 17, 1989. --- Decided: June 21, 1989


In 1984, respondent Oakes took color photographs of his partially nude and physically mature 14-year-old stepdaughter, L.S. He was indicted, tried, and convicted of violating a Massachusetts statute (§ 29A) prohibiting adults from posing or exhibiting minors "in a state of nudity" for purposes of visual representation or reproduction in any publication, motion picture, photograph, or picture. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the conviction. After holding that Oakes' posing of L.S. was speech for First Amendment purposes, the court struck down the statute as substantially overbroad under the First Amendment without addressing whether § 29A could be constitutionally applied to Oakes. It concluded that § 29A criminalized conduct that virtually every person would regard as lawful, such as the taking of family photographs of nude infants. Subsequently, § 29A was amended to add a "lascivious intent" requirement to the "nudity" portion of the statute and to eliminate exemptions contained in the prior version.

Held: The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded.

401 Mass. 602, 518 N.E.2d 836, vacated and remanded.

Justice O'CONNOR, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, Justice WHITE, and Justice KENNEDY, concluded that:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).