KINGSLEY BOOKS, INC. V. BROWN, 354 U. S. 436 (1957)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kingsley Books, Inc. v. Brown, 354 U.S. 436 (1957)

Kingsley Books, Inc. v. Brown

No. 107

Argued April 22, 1957

Decided June 24, 1957

354 U.S. 436


In a proceeding under §22-a of the New York Code of Criminal Procedure, a State Court, sitting in equity, found that certain booklets displayed for sale by appellants were clearly obscene, and it enjoined their further distribution and ordered their destruction.

Held: resort to this remedy by the State was not violative of the freedom of speech and press protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from encroachment by the States. Pp. 354 U. S. 437-445.

(a) A State could constitutionally convict appellants for keeping for sale booklets found to be obscene. Alberts v. California, post, p. 354 U. S. 476. P. 354 U. S. 440.

(b) Nothing in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment restricts a State to the criminal process in seeking to protect its people from the dissemination of pornography. P. 354 U. S. 441.

(c) The injunction here sustained no more amounts to a "prior restraint" on freedom of speech or press than did the criminal prosecution in Alberts v. California, supra, where the defendant was fined, sentenced to imprisonment, and put on probation for two years on condition that he not violate the obscenity statute. Pp. 354 U. S. 441-444.

(d) The Due Process Clause does not subject the States to the necessity of having trials by jury in misdemeanor prosecutions, and the procedure prescribed by § 22-a of the New York statute for determination whether a publication is obscene does not differ in essential procedural safeguards from that provided under many state statutes making the distribution of obscene publications a misdemeanor. Pp. 354 U. S. 443-444.

(e) The provision in § 22-a for the seizure and destruction of instruments of ascertained wrongdoing is a resort to a legal remedy long sanctioned in Anglo-American law. P. 354 U. S. 444.

(f) Near v. Minnesota, 283 U. S. 697, distinguished. P. 354 U. S. 445.

1 N.Y.2d 177, 134 N.E.2d 461, affirmed.

Page 354 U. S. 437

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