United States v. Thirty-Seven Photographs

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United States v. Thirty-Seven Photographs
by the Supreme Court of the United States

United States v. Thirty-seven Photographs, 402 U.S. 363, is a 1971 United States Supreme Court decision in an in rem case on procedures following the seizure of imported obscene material. A 6–3 court held that the federal statute governing the seizures was not in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments as long as the government began forfeiture proceedings within 14 days of the seizure. Excerpted from United States v. Thirty-seven Photographs on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Court Documents
Concurring Opinions
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

402 U.S. 363

United States  v.  Thirty-Seven Photographs

 Argued: Jan. 20, 1971. --- Decided: May 3, 1971

See 403 U.S. 924, 91 S.Ct. 2221.


Customs agents sezied as obscene photographs possessed by claimant Luros when he returned to this country from Europe on October 24, 1969. Section 1305(a) of 19 U.S.C., pursuant to which the agents acted, prohibits the importation of obscene material, provides for its seizure at any customs office and retention pending the judgment of the district court, and specifies that the collector of customs give information of the seizure to the district attorney, who shall institute forfeiture proceedings. The agents referred the matter to the United States Attorney, who brought forfeiture proceedings on November 6. Luros' answer denied that the photographs were obscene and counterclaimed that § 1305(a) was unconstitutional. He asked for a three-judge court, which on November 20 was ordered to be convened. Following a hearing on January 9, 1970, the court on January 27 held § 1305(a) unconstitutional on the grounds that the statute (1) failed to meet the procedural requirements of Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51, 85 S.Ct. 734, 13 L.Ed.2d 649 and (2) was overly broad as including within its ban obscene material for private use, making it invalid under Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 89 S.Ct. 1243, 22 L.Ed.2d 542. Held: The judgment is reversed and the case remanded. Pp. 367-379.

309 F.Supp. 36, reversed and remanded.


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).