Obscenity: A Legal Primer

OBSCENITY: A LEGAL PRIMER GQVERNMENT DOCUMENTS COLLECTION BY R i t a Ann Reher L e g i s l a t i v e Attorney American Law D i v i s i o n September 11, 1985 Revised December 11, 1985 T h e Congressional Research S e n i c e works exclusively for the Congress, conduct~ngresearch, analyzing legislation, a n d providing information at the request of committees, hlernbers. a n d their staffs. T h e Service makes such research available, without partisan bias, in manv forms including studies. reports, compilations, digests, and background briefings. L'pon request. CRS assists committees in analyzing legislative proposals a n d issues, and in assessing the possible effects of these proposals and their alternatives. T h e Service's senior specialists a n d subject analysts are also available fhr personal consultations in their respective fields of expertise. ABSTRACT T h i s r e p o r t p r o v i d e s an o v e r v i e w of t h e p r e s e n t law of o b s c e n i t y and pornography, w i t h emphasis on t h e f o l l o w i n g t o p i c s : (1) the legal defi- n i t i o n of o b s c e n i t y ; ( 2 ) t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of r e s t r i c t i v e zoning l a w s ; (3) f e d e r a l a u t h o r i t y t o l e g i s l a t e i n t h i s area; ( 4 ) c h i l d pornography; ( 5 ) r e g u l a t i o n o f t h e b r o a d c a s t media i n t h i s c o n t e x t ; ( 6 ) o b s c e n i t y and c a b l e t e l e v i s i o n ; ( 7 ) obscene p r e r e c o r d e d messages; ( 8 ) s e i z u r e of obscene m a t e r i a l s ; and .(9) pornography a s a form of s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n . CONTENTS ............................. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DEFINITION OF OBSCENITY: WHAT IS LEGALLY "OBSCENE"? . . . . . . . RESTRICTIVE ZONING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ABSTRACT ....................... CHILD PORNOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . REGULATION OF BROADCASTING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CABLE TELEVISION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OBSCENE PRERECORDED MESSAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SEIZURE OF OBSCENE MATERIALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PORNOGRAPHY AS A FORM OF SEX DISCRIMINATION . . . . . . . . . . . iii 2 FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT 10 14 15 16 19 OBSCENITY: A LEGAL PRIMER INTRODUCTION The First Amendment to the United States Constitution in pertinent part provides, "Congress shall make no law speech, or of the press." ... abridging the freedom of However, despite this absolute language ("no - law"), historical background and case precedents construing the amendment have developed certain exceptions to this apparent absolute right. Obscenity is one type of speech which has never been afforded constitutional protection. This report provides an overview of the present state of the law in this area, with particular emphasis on the following topics: (1) definition of obscenity; (2) constitutionality of restrictive zoning laws; (3) federal authority to legislate in this area; (4) child pornography; (5) regulation of the broadcast media in this context; (6) obscenity and cable television; (7) obscene prerecorded messages; (8) seizure of obscene materials; and (9) pornography as a form of sex discrimination. DEFINITION OF OBSCENITY: WHAT IS LEGALLY "OBSCENE"? In everyday conversation, the terms "pornography" and "obscenity" are frequently used interchangeably. In legal parlance, however, these terms are not synonymous and the distinctions are important. As explained in the leading 11 Supreme Court decision, Miller v. california; the term "pornography" encompasses all erotic material; while obscenity, derived from the Greek word for "filth," is substantially more limited. While obscene material has no constitutional protection, much pornographic material in fact enjoys such protection. The problem which courts have confronted over the years is where to draw the line between protected and unprotected speech (the term encompasses both written and spoken material) in this context. For nearly-ninetyyears, American courts attempting to regulate obscenity 21 followed the definition set forth in an 1868 English case, Regina v. Hicklin: . . . [Tlhe test of obscenity is . . . whether the tendency . . . is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall. Over the years numerous lower courts expressed dissatisfaction with this standard, including Judge Learned Hand's statement in United States v. Kennerly that "[tlo put thought in leash to the average conscience of the time is perhaps tolerable, but to fetter it by the necessities of the lowest and least capable 4 ;r 3/ -A 1933 case, United States v. One Book Entitled "Ulysses," seems a fatal policy." adopted a new standard, holding that in obscenity prosecutions the effect of a - - 11 - 413 U.S. 15, 18-19 n. 3 (1973). 2/ L.R. 3 Q.B. 360, 371 (1868). 3 - 209 F. 119, 121 (S .D.N.Y. 1913). 41 - 4 F.Supp. 182 (S.D.N.Y. 1933), aff'd 72 F.2d 705 (2d Cir. 1934). 5/ work should be determined by its effect on a "person with average sex instincts." From that time on there was a split in judicial reasoning, with some courts adopting the Ulysses standard while others continued to folow that set forth in 6/ Hicklin. The first Supreme Court ruling on this point came in 1957, in Roth v. -7/ United States. That case redefined the applicable standard as: [wlhether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest. This standard proved extremely difficult to apply, and the Court over the next several years added and rephrased several elements. The next "watershed" standard was that adopted in a 1966 case, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure v. 8/ Attorney General of Massachusetts: Under [the Roth] definition, as eleborated in-subsequent cases, three elements must coalesce: it must be. estab-. lished that (a) the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest in sex; (b) the material is patently offensive because it affronts contemporary community standards relating to the description or representation of matters; and (c) the material is utterly without redeeming social value. This standard, too, underwent several reformulations before it was abandoned by the Court as "unworkable" in Miller v. California, supra. Under the Miller standard, which with minor modifications remains in effect today: The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, 5/ - 5 F.Supp. at 184. 61 - Schauer, The Law of Obscenity chap. 1 (1976). 7/ - 354 U.S. 476, 489 (1957). 8/ - 383 U.S. 413, 418 (1966). t a k e n a s a whole, a p p e a l s t o t h e p r u r i e n t i n t e r e s t ; (b) whether t h e work d e p i c t s o r d e s c r i b e s , i n a p a t e n t l y o f f e n s i v e way, s e x u a l conduct s p e c i f i c a l l y def i n e d by t h e a p p l i c a b l e s t a t e law; and ( c ) whether t h e work, t a k e n a s a whole, l a c k s s e r i o u s l i t e r a r y , a r t i s t i c , p o l i t i c a l , o r s c i e n t i f i c value. zf The primary d i f f e r e n c e between t h e Memoirs and t h e M i l l e r s t a n d a r d s i s t h a t , under M i l l e r , t h e m a t e r i a l need no l o n g e r be " u t t e r l y w i t h o u t redeeming s o c i a l v a l u e f f t o q u a l i f y a s l e g a l l y obscene. The Supreme Court r e c e n t l y r e a f f i r m e d t h e M i l l e r s t a n d a r d i n B r o c k e t t v. 10/ a c a s e which p a r t i a l l y i n v a l i d a t e d a Washington S t a t e Spokane Arcades, I n c . , - " p u b l i c nuisancef' o b s c e n i t y s t a t u t e which used t h e term " l u s t " a s p a r t of i t s definition. The Court h e l d t h a t t h i s term was overbroad i n t h e c o n t e x t of t h e challenged s t a t u t e , i n t h a t i t could b e r e a d a s encompassing m a t e r i a l s which evoke a normal, h e a l t h y i n t e r e s t i n s e x ( a s opposed t o a. morbid, p e r v e r s e in- t e r e s t ) and t h u s r e a c h m a t e r i a l s which a r e c o n s t i t u t i o r i a l l y p r o t e c t e d . How- e v e r , i t r e i t e r a t e d i t s a p p r o v a l of t h e M i l l e r s t a n d a r d a s t h a t which should be applied i n obscenity determinations. Under t h i s s t a n d a r d i t i s c l e a r t h a t much, i f n o t most, m a t e r i a l d e p i c t i n g s e x u a l a c t i v i t y i s n o t l e g a l l y obscene p e r s e a FOP example, i t may n o t be c l e a r "beyond a r e a s o n a b l e doubt" ( t h e s t a n d a r d i n c r i m i n a l p r o s e c u t i o n s ) whether "contemporary community s t a n d a r d s f f would condemn t h e c h a l l e n g e d m a t e r i a l , o r whether i t i s " p a t e n t l y o f f e n s i v e . " The f a c t t h a t t h e work "taken a s a whole" must l a c k s e r i o u s l i t e r a r y , a r t i s t i c , p o l i t i c a l , o r s c i e n t i f i c v a l u e poses a n o t h e r problem, a s a s i g n i f i c a n t p o r t i o n of t h e work may i n f a c t be obscene, b u t t h e o v e r a l l work i s n o t . 9/ - 101 - 413 U.S. (The second element of t h e t r i p a r t i t e t e s t simply a t 23. 105 S.Ct. 2794 (1985). reflects the general rule that criminal statutes must be written with sufficient specificity so that those accused of violating them receive adequate notice of the wrongful nature of their acts.) Also, the 'kontemporary community standards" criteria seemingly precludes the implementation of a national obscenity standard, as community standards may differ significantly in different parts of the country. Although the above Miller language indicates that state law is to be utilized in analyzing the questionable material, other language in that same opinion indicates that local standards of smaller communities, as shown perhaps through city or county obscenity ordinances, might be used for this purpose. This standard has led to situations such as that involving the motion picture "Deep Throat," 131 121 which was bannkd in ~altimoreTutallowed to run in Binghamton, New York. RESTRICTIVE ZONING , , If the government cannot flatly prohibit non-obscene sexually oriented materials and performances, may it constitutionally restrict the location of businesses which offer such goods or activities? Such restrictive zoning ordinances typically take one of two opposite approaches: either they require that such establishments be widely dispersed, or they require that they be concentrated within a given area. Detroit's "dispersal" ordinance was upheld 141 by the Supreme Court in a 1976 case, Young v. American Mini Theaters, Inc. That Court has not yet ruled on a "concentration" ordinance, but lower courts acting on a case by case basis have upheld those not found to be unreasonably restrictive of protected constitutional rights. 121 - Mangum v. State's Attorney, 275 Md. 450, 341 A.2d 786 (1975). 131 - People v. Binghamton Theaters, Inc., Binghamton City Ct., Dec. 16, 1972. 141 - 427 U.S. 50 (1976). Young involved an "Anti-Skid Row Ordinance" which prohibited the location of an adult theater within 1,000 feet of any two other "regulated uses1' (including establishments such as adult book stores, cabarets, bars, taxi dance halls, and hotels ) or within 500 feet of a residential area. In upholding this ordinance, the Court found that there was a reasonable relationship between its land-use regulation and the city's interest in neighborhood preservation and the health, safety and welfare of its residents: The record discloses a factual basis for the Common Council's conclusion that this kind of restriction will have the desired effect [T]he city's interest in attempting to preserve the quality of urban life is one that must be accorded high respect. Moreover, the city must be allowed a reasonable opportunity to experiment with solutions to admittedly serious problems. 151 .... The key efement in this holding was that the Council was able to document 16/, ts "conclusion that this kind of restriction will have the desired effect." Thus this case should be distinguished from the Supreme Court's rulings in -3-1 111 - Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, which held facially invalid as an infringement of the first amendment an ordinance which prohibited a drive-in movie theater from exhibiting films containing nudity when the screen was visible from a public street or public place (which was true for all drive-in movies); 181 and Schad v. Borough of Mount Ephraim, which struck down an ordinance excluding live entertainment (in this case, nude dancers) from a broad range of commercial uses permitted in the borough. In each case the Court held that the government in question failed to provide sufficient justification for its blanket prohibition of a constitutionally-protected activity. Id. - at 71. 171 422 U.S. - 205 (1975). The Supreme Court has now agreed to review a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Playtime Theaters, Inc. v. City of 19I Renton, which invalidated a Renton, Washington, ordinance prohibiting adult movie theaters within LOO0 feet of residential zones, single- or multi-family buildings, churches, or schools. The ninth circuit held that the ordinance imposed a substantial restriction of speech and that the city did not show a substantial governmental interest sufficient to justify this restriction. It distinguished the Renton situation from that present in Young by noting that there was no showing in Young that the ordinance seriously limited the number of sites available for adult theaters, while the Renton ordinance's prohibition would result in a substantial restriction on this activity. As noted above, "concentrated" zoning ordinances have been upheld in this context by lower courts as long as they are not found to be unduly restrictive. 201 See, e.g.j Basiardanes v. City of Galveston, which held that the government need not guarantee "choice comercial sites" for those wishing to sell erotic 211 materials; and City of Minot v. Central Avenue News, Inc., which upheld a concentration ordinance which reserved a substantial area for adult entertainment. 221 On the other hand, Purple Onion, Inc. v. ~ackson7truckdown an Atlanta ordinance which designated 81 sites within an area as appropriate for adult businesses, finding that "no more than three or four ... [were] sites a reasonably prudent investor" would consider. Similarly, the court in E & B Enterprises v. 231 City of University Park invalidated an ordinance which it found had been 191 748 F.2d 527 (9th Cir. 1984), cert. granted, 53 U.S.L.W. 3726 (U.S. Apr. 15, 1985)(No. 84-1360). 201 - 514 F.Supp. 975, 982 (S.D. Tex. 1981). 22/ - 511 F.Supp. 1207, 1216 (N.D. Ga. 1981). 23/ - 449 F.Supp. 695 (N.D. Tex. 1977). designed t o "run o u t of town" an a d u l t movie t h e a t e r . Under t h a t o r d i n a n c e , o n l y two s u i t a b l e s i t e s were a v a i l a b l e f o r showing a d u l t f i l m s , one of which w a s owned by t h e c i t y and t h e o t h e r by a competing i n t e r e s t . Also, t h e r e was no evidence such a s t h a t p r e s e n t e d i n Young t h a t t h e t h e a t e r had l e d t o neighborhood d e t e r i o r a t i o n o r an o t h e r w i s e u n s a f e o r unhealthy environment. FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT Under t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n , t h e f e d e r a l government has o n l y l i m i t e d a u t h o r i t y t o l e g i s l a t e on o b s c e n i t y . A r t . I , 5 8, of t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n , t h e s o - c a l l e d -enumerated powers c l a u s e " which s p e c i f i e s a r e a s i n which Congress i s a u t h o r i z e d t o l e g i s l a t e , does n o t on i t s f a c e encompass o b s c e n i t y l e g i s l a t i o n . Thus, under t h a t c l a u s e and t h e t e n t h amendment, g e n e r a l a u t h o r i t y t o l e g i s l a t e on t h a t subj e c t is resewed t o the individual states. Most s t a t e s have i n t u r n d e l e g a t e d a p o r t i o n of t h i s a u t h o r i t y t o lower governmental e n t i t i e s such a s c o u n t i e s and m u n i c i p a l i t i e s . However, two s e c t i o n s of t h e enumerated powers c l a u s e , § 3 , which i n p e r t i n e n t p a r t a u t h o r i z e s Congress " [ t l o r e g u l a t e commerce w i t h f o r e i g n N a t i o n s , and among t h e s e v e r a l S t a t e s ; " and § 7 , which a u t h o r i z e s t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t of "Post O f f i c e s and P o s t Roads," s e r v e a s t h e b a s i s , o r nexus, f o r t h e f o l l o w i n g pro241 h i b i t i o n s i n t h e f e d e r a l c r i m i n a l code: m a i l i n g obscene m a t t e r ; importation 251 o r t r a n s p o r t a t i o n of obscene m a t t e r ; m a i l i n g i n d e c e n t m a t t e r i n wrappers o r 2 7/ 261 envelopes; b r o a d c a s t i n g i n d e c e n t , p r o f a n e o r obscene language; and t r a n s - - 24/ - 1 8 U.S.C. § 25/ - 1 8 U.S.C. 5 1462. 261 - 1 8 U.S.C. § 27/ - 1 8 U.S.C. 5 1464. 1461. 1463. 281 portation of obscene matters for sale or distribution. In addition, the 29I Federal Sexual Exploitation of Children ~ct- specifically prohibits the production, mailing, or transportation of materials depicting minors involved in sexually explicit conduct. 30I The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984- added violations of various state and federal obscenity statutes to the listing of predicate offenses encompassed by the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations [RICO] 311 law. RICO imposes criminal penalties on those who acquire or conduct an "enterprise" engaged in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce through a "pattern of racketter activity," which term as amended now includes all state and federal obscenity violations which carry a maximum sentence of at least one year' s imprisonment. There are also federal statutory provisions'- 321 which authorize a person who does not wish to receive pandering advertisements sent through the mail to request that the mailer(s) of such materials refrain from sending any further such mailings to his or her address. This statute is not limited to legally .obscene materials but includes any materials "which the addressee in his sole discretion 331 believes to be erotically arousing or sexually provocative." This language is arguably broad enough to encompass any unwanted advertisement, regardless of content, an interpretation accepted and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme 291 - 18 U.S.C. 30/ P.L. - 5 5 2251 to 2253. 98-473, 98 Stat. 1837. 311 - 18 U.S.C. 5 5 1961 to 1968. 321 - 39 U.S.C. 0 5 3008, 3010, 3011. 331 - 39 U.S.C. 5 3008(a). C o u r t i n Rowan v . P o s t O f f i c e Department: 341 - ... W e c a t e g o r i c a l l y r e j e c t t h e argument t h a t a vendor h a s a r i g h t under t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n o r otherw i s e t o s e n d unwanted m a t e r i a l i n t o t h e home of another. If t h i s p r o h i b i t i o n o p e r a t e s t o inpede t h e f l o w of even v a l i d i d e a s , t h e answer i s t h a t no o n e h a s a r i g h t t o p r e s s even "good" i d e a s on a n The a s s e r t e d r i g h t unwilling recipient of a mailer, we r e p e a t , s t o p s a t t h e o u t e r boundary of e v e r y p e r s o n ' s domain. .... Upon r e c e i p t o f a r e q u e s t from a p o s t a l p a t r o n t h a t h e o r s h e d o e s n o t d e s i r e t o r e c e i v e s u c h m a i l i n g s from a s p e c i f i e d s o u r c e , t h e P o s t a l S e r v i c e i s s u e s a n o r d e r p r o h i b i t i n g f u t u r e m a i l i n g s from t h a t s o u r c e as of 30 d a y s a f t e r t h e e f f e c t i v e d a t e of t h e o r d e r , which i s t h e 3 0 t h c a l e n d a r day f o l lowing i t s r e c e i p t . I f t h e P o s t a l S e r v i c e b e l i e v e s t h a t any p e r s o n i s v i o l a t i n g such an o r d e r , i t nay r e q u e s t t h e A t t o r n e y G e n e r a l t o commence a c i v i l a c t i o n a g a i n s t t h a t p a r t y , s e e k i n g v a r i o u s a l t e r n a t i v e forms o f r e l i e f t o i n s u r e t h a t the objectionable'mailings a r e not repeated. Related criminal p e n a l t i e s f o r t h e v i o l a t i o n of s u c h o r d e r s may b e imposed o n l y when t h e m a i l i n g s do i n 35 1 f a c t contain sexually e x p l i c i t materials. Problems i n v o l v e d w i t h t h e p o s s i b l e e s t a b l i s h m e n t of a n a t i o n a l o b s c e n i t y s t a n d a r d a r e d i s c u s s e d under " D e f i n i t i o n of O b s c e n i t y , " s u p r a pp. 4-5. CHILD PORNOGRAPHY 36/ I n J u l y 1982 t h e Supreme Court r u l e d i n New York v . ~ e r b e r - t h a t s t a t e s , and by a n a l o g y t h e f e d e r a l government, can c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y r e g u l a t e t h e prod u c t i o n and d i s t r i b u t i o n of m a t e r i a l which d e p i c t s m i n o r s engaged i n s e x u a l 341 - 397 U.S. 351 - 1 8 U.S.C. 361 - 458 U.S. 728, 738 (1970). 5 1737. 747 (1982). a c t i v i t y even when such m a t e r i a l i s n o t l e g a l l y obscene. r e l a t e d r e a s o n s f o r i t s holding: (1) The c o u r t gave f i v e t h e s t a t e ' s l e g i s l a t i v e judgment t h a t t h e u s e of c h i l d r e n a s s u b j e c t s of pornographic m a t e r i a l s i s harmful t o t h e i r p h y s i o l o g i c a l , emotional, and mental h e a l t h e a s i l y p a s s e s muster under t h e f i r s t amendment; ( 2 ) supra, t h e o b s c e n i t y s t a n d a r d s e t f o r t h i n M i l l e r v. C a l i f o r n i a , i s n o t a s a t i s f a c t o r y s o l u t i o n t o t h e c h i l d pornography problem; (3) t h e a d v e r t i s i n g and s e l l i n g of c h i l d pornography p r o v i d e s an economic motive f o r and i s t h u s an i n t e g r a l p a r t of t h e p r o d u c t i o n of such m a t e r i a l s , an a c t i v i t y which i s i l l e g a l throughout t h e c o u n t r y ; (4) t h e i n t r i n s i c v a l u e of p e r m i t t i n g l i v e performances and photographic r e p r o d u c t i o n s of c h i l d r e n engaged i n lewd exh i b i t i o n s i s extremely modest, i f n o t & minimis; and (5) r e c o g n i z i n g and c l a s s i - f y i n g c h i l d pornography a s a c a t e g o r y of m a t e r i a l o u t s i d e t h e scope of f i r s t amendment p r o t e c t i o n i s n o t incompatible w i t h e a r l i e r Supreme Court d e c i s i o n s a s t o what speech i s u n p r o t e c t e d . The Court concluded: When a d e f i n a b l e c l a s s of m a t e r i a l s , such a s t h a t covered by [ t h e p e r t i n e n t New York s t a t u t e ] , b e a r s s o h e a v i l y and p e r v a s i v e l y on t h e w e l f a r e of c h i l d r e n engaged i n t h e p r o d u c t i o n , we t h i n k t h e b a l a n c e of competing int e r e s t s i s c l e a r l y s t r u c k and t h a t i t i s p e r m i s s i b l e t o c o n s i d e r t h e s e m a t e r i a l s a s w i t h o u t t h e p r o t e c t i o n of t h e F i r s t Amendment. 371 Again, t h e M i l l e r o b s c e n i t y s t a n d a r d p r o v i d e s : The b a s i c g u i d e l i n e s f o r t h e t r i e r of f a c t must be: ( a ) Whether " t h e a v e r a g e person, a p p l y i n g contempora r y community s t a n d a r d s " would f i n d t h a t t h e work, t a k e n a s a whole, a p p e a l s t o t h e p r u r i e n t i n t e r e s t ; (b) whether t h e work d e p i c t s o r d e s c r i b e s , i n a p a t e n t l y o f f e n s i v e way, s e x u a l conduct s p e c i f i c a l l y d e f i n e d by t h e a p p l i c a b l e S t a t e law; and ( c ) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. 381 The Ferber Court adjusted the Miller formulation as follows, where material depicting children engaged in sexual activity is involved: A trier of fact need not find that the material appeals to the prurient interest of the average person; it is not required that sexual conduct portrayed be done so in a patently offensive manner; and the material at issue need not be considered as a whole. E/ Under the Ferber standard, only a small portion of this material, that which does not involve live performances by the children depicted, remains constitutionally protected. However, the conduct in question cannot be prohibited unless it is adequately defined by the applicable law as written or authoritatively construed. Although the decision was unanimous to the material involved in that particular case, two films devoted.almost exclusively to depicting young boys masturbating, Justices Stevens, Brennan and Marshall argued that constitutional protection should be afforded to material depicting minors engaged in sexual activity where that material has serious literary, scientific, or educational value. The Ferber decision holds, however, that states and the federal govern- ment can constitutionally regulate all such material, regardless of any intrinsic value it might possess. Federal law has now been brought into line with the Ferber decision (i.e., the requirement that the proscribed material be legally obscene was dropped) 40I with the enactment of the Child Protection Act of 1984. 381 - 413 U.S. at 24 (citation omitted). 391 - 458 U.S. at 764. 401 - Pub. L. 98-292, 98 Stat. 292. REGULATION OF BROADCASTING J u d i c i a l p r e c e d e n t s i n d i c a t e t h a t a much g r e a t e r measure of c o n t r o l i s p e r m i s s i b l e w i t h r e g a r d t o t h e b r o a d c a s t media t h a n t o t h e i r non-broadcast counterparts. The r a t i o n a l e behind t h i s p o l i c y i s t h a t , a t l e a s t t h e o r e t i c a l l y , everyone i s e q u a l l y f r e e t o w r i t e , speak, and p u b l i s h ; t h e r e i s no volume l i m i t a t i o n a s t o t h e amount which may b e spoken o r p u b l i s h e d . This is i n sharp c o n t r a s t t o t h e b r o a d c a s t media, where t h e r e i s o n l y a f i n i t e r a n g e of frequencies available. Thus, w h i l e t h e M i l l e r o b s c e n i t y s t a n d a r d d e f i n i t e l y a p p l i e s 41/ i n t h i s context, the pertinent f e d e r a l criminal statuteprohibits "utter [ing] any obscene, i n d e c e n t o r p r o f a n e language by means of r a d i o communication." T h i s b r o a d e r s t a n d a r d a s d e f i n e d below was upheld a s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l by t h e 42 / Supreme Court i n a 1978 d e c i s i o n , FCC v. P a c i f i c a Foundation. The P a c i f i c a c a s e a r o s e from t h e a f t e r n o o n r a d i o b r o a d c a s t of a George .. C a r l i n r e c o r d which used "seven d i r t y words" found by t h e FCC t o be " i n d e c e n t , " and t h u s i n v i o l a t i o n of f e d e r a l law, a l t h o u g h they were found n o t t o be l e g a l l y "obscene." The FCC's d e f i n i t i o n of what i s "indecent" f o r t h i s purpose i n c l u d e s "language t h a t d e s c r i b e s i n terms p a t e n t l y o f f e n s i v e a s measured by contemp o r a r y commmity s t a n d a r d s f o r t h e b r o a d c a s t medium, s e x u a l o r e x c r e t o r y a c t i v i t i e s and o r g a n s , a t times of t h e day when t h e r e i s a r e a s o n a b l e r i s k t h a t 43/ c h i l d r e n may b e i n t h e audience." T h i s d i f f e r s from t h e M i l l e r o b s c e n i t y - s t a n d a r d i n t h a t t h e i n d e c e n t programming need n o t a p p e a l t o t h e p r u r i e n t int e r e s t ; i t need n o t be t a k e n a s a whole when a p p l y i n g contemporary community 5 1464. 41/ - 1 8 U.S.C. 42/ - 438 U.S. 43/ - P a c i f i c a Foundation, 56 FCC 2d 94, 98 (1975). 726 (1978). s t a n d a r d s ; and i t may, i n some c o n t e x t , have s e r i o u s l i t e r a r y , a r t i s t i c , p o l i t i c a l o r s c i e n t i f i c value. I n u p h o l d i n g t h i s s t a n d a r d i n t h i s c o n t e x t , t h e Supreme Court emphasized t h a t b r o a d c a s t i n g i n v o l v e s " t h e p r i v a c y of t h e home, where t h e i n d i v i d u a l ' s r i g h t t o b e l e f t a l o n e p l a i n l y o u t w e i g h s t h e F i r s t Amendment r i g h t s of an i n t r u d e r [ c i t i n g Rowan v . P o s t O f f i c e Dept., supra] .... [ a n d ] p r i o r warn- i n g s c a n n o t c o m p l e t e l y p r o t e c t t h e l i s t e n e r o r v i e w e r from unexpected program 44 I content." A s n o t e d above, t h e a p p l i c a b l e s t a n d a r d i s r e s t r i c t e d t o "times of - day when t h e r e i s a r e a s o n a b l e r i s k t h a t c h i l d r e n may b e i n t h e a u d i e n c e ; " t h e Court s p e c i f i c a l l y s t a t e d t h a t t h e q u e s t i o n of w h e t h e r b r o a d c a s t i n g t h e same programming a t a l a t e r h o u r when c h i l d r e n w e r e less l i k e l y t o b e l i s t e n i n g would b e a c c e p t a b l e " i s a n i s s u e n e i t h e r t h e Commission n o r t h i s C o u r t h a s 45 I - decided. " CABLE TELEVISION Another q u e s t i o n which h a s n o t y e t been c o n s i d e r e d by t h e Supreme C o u r t i s whether t h e M i l l e r obscenity s t a n d a r d o r t h e l e s s e r P a c i f i c a indecency s t a n d a r d , o r p e r h a p s some i n t e r m e d i a t e s t a n d a r d , a p p l i e s t o programming p r e s e n t e d on c a b l e television. However, i t a p p e a r s t h a t t h e lower c o u r t s which have c o n s i d e r e d t h e q u e s t i o n have c o n s i s t e n t l y h e l d t h a t t h e more s t r i n g e n t M i l l e r s t a n d a r d s h o u l d a p p l y , b e c a u s e of t h e numerous d i s t i n c t i o n s which c a n b e made between 46/ c a b l e and o v e r - t h e - a i r t e l e v i s i o n b r o a d c a s t i n g . -- 441 - 438 U.S. 451 Id. 461 - - a t 748. a t 750 n. 28. E.g., Cruz v . F e r r e , 5 7 1 F.Supp. 125 (S.D. F l a . 1 9 8 3 ) ; Home Box O f f i c e 986 (D. Utah.1982) : Community T e l e v i s i o n of Utah v . Roy C i t y , 555 F.Supp. 1164 (D. Utah 1 9 8 2 ) . v. ~ i E i n s o n ,5 3 1 F.Supp. Cable does not utilize the radio frequency'spectrum for its over-theair transmission, so there is no scarcity of frequencies comparable to that which serves as the basis for the more stringent regulation of broadcast media (i.e., there is no limit to the number of cable channels which can be transmitted from or received at a given location). Cable does not "invade the home" as is true of the broadcast media, in that customers voluntarily subscribe to the service and must pay a fee in order to obtain it. Finally, technology is available to "lock out" certain channels on a cable system both at the cable office and in the home, providing still more consumer control over the type of programming received. For example, a parent can "lock outf' those channels throught unsuitable for viewing by their children. For these reasons, cable is arguably more comparable to the print and cinema industries, to which the Miller standard applies, than to the television and radio industries, which are coSered by ~acifica. 47/ The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984- enacted the following prohibition: Whoever transmits over any cable system any matter which is obscene or otherwise unprotected by the Constitution of the United States shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. %/ This flexible language was adopted so that the law will not have to be amended should the pertinent constitutional standard be revised. OBSCENE PRERECORDED MESSAGES In December 1983, Congress amended the prohibition against obscene or harassing telephone calls in interstate commerce to include prerecorded obscene 47/ - Pub. L. 98-549, 98 Stat. 2801. 48/ - 47 U.S.C. 5 559. messages, p o p u l a r l y known a s "dial-a-porn." 49/ However, the f i r s t regulations promulgated u n d e r t h i s amendment, which were aimed a t r e s t r i c t i n g a c c e s s by 50/ minors t o t h e s e r e c o r d i n g s , were i n v a l i d a t e d by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o u r t of 51/ Appeals f o r t h e Second C i r c u i t i n C a r l i n Communications, I n c . v . FCC. The - - c o u r t h e l d t h a t t h e FCC had f a i l e d t o d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t t h e r e g u l a t i o n s w e r e well-tailored t o t h e e n d s i n t e n d e d t o b e advanced by t h e s t a t u t e o r t h a t t h o s e e n d s c o u l d n o t have been met by l e s s d r a s t i c a c t i o n s . r e q u i r e d t h a t "dial-a-porn" 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. Those r e g u l a t i o n s had s e r v i c e s b e o p e r a t e d o n l y between t h e h o u r s of E a s t e r n Time o r t h a t payment b e made by c r e d i t c a r d p r i o r t o t r a n s m i s s i o n of t h e message. 52/ I n O c t o b e r 1985, t h e FCC a g a i n i s s u e d f i n a l r e g u l a t i o n s f o r t h i s p u r p o s e r Under t h e s e r e g u l a t i o n s , p r o v i d e r s of "dial-a-porn" s e r v i c e s must r e q u i r e an a u t h o r i z e d a c c e s s o r i d e n t i f i c a t i o n code o r prepayment by c r e d i t c a r d b e f o r e t r a n s m i s s i o n of t h e messages. The p r o v i d e r must i s s u e t h e code by m a i l a f t e r r e a s o n a b l y a s c e r t a i n i n g , t h r o u g h a w r i t t e n a p p l i c a t i o n p r o c e d u r e , t h a t t h e app l i c a n t i s a t l e a s t 1 8 y e a r s of a g e . A l s o , p r o v i d e r s must e s t a b l i s h a p r o c e d u r e whereby c o d e s w i l l b e c a n c e l e d immediately when p r o v i d e r s a r e n o t i f i e d t h a t t h e y a r e l o s t , s t o l e n o r m i s u s e d , o r no l o n g e r r e q u i r e d , SEIZURE OF OBSCENE MATERIALS The f o u r t h amendment" p r o h i b i t i o n a g a i n s t u n r e a s o n a b l e s e a r c h e s and s e i z u r e s g e n e r a l l y r e q u i r e s t h e i s s u a n c e of a w a r r a n t p r i o r t o t a k i n g any such a c t i o n ; and t h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y t r u e i n t h e c o n t e x t of p r o t e c t e d f i r s t Pub. L. 98-214, 97 S t a t . 1469, amending 47 U.S.C. 49 Fed. Reg. 24996, 25003 ( 1 9 8 4 ) . 749 F.2d 1 1 3 (2d C i r . 1 9 8 4 ) . 50 Fed. Reg. 24699 (1985). 5 223. amendment rights. 53I As the Supreme Court explained in Marcus v. Search Warrant, "The Bill of Rights was fashioned against the background of knowledge that unrestricted power of search and seizure could also be an instrument for stifling liberty of expression." Thus numerous cases indicate that particular care must be taken with regard to searches for and seizures of allegedly obscene materials to insure that first amendment rights are in fact protected. 541 For example, in Roaden v. Kentucky, a county sheriff, after viewing a sexually explicit film at a local drive-in theater, arrested the theater manager for exhibiting an obscene film and seized, without a warrant, one copy of the film for use as evidence. There was no prior judicial determination of obscenity. The Supreme Court explained that this search was unreasonable, "not simply because.it would have been easy to secure a warrant, but rather because prior restraint of the right of expression, whether by -books or films, calls for a higher hurdle in the evaluation of reasonableness. The setting of the bookstore or the courmercial theater, each presumptively under the protection of the First Amendment, invokes such Fourth Amendment warrant requirements because we examine what is 'unreasonable1 in the light of the values of freedom 551 of expression." 561 In Lo-Ji Sales, Inc. v. Mew York, a police investigator purchased two films from an adult bookstore and, after viewing them and concluding that they were obscene, took the films to a town justice who also viewed them. Based on an affidavit by the investigator, the justice issued a warrant authorizing 531 - 376 U.S. 717, 729 (1961). 541 - 413 U.S. 496 (1973). 551 Id. 561 - at 504 (footnote omitted). 422 U.S. 319 (1979). CRS- 18 s e i z u r e of o t h e r c o p i e s of t h e two f i l m s and " t h e f o l l o w i n g items which t h e Court i n d e p e n d e n t l y [on examination] has determined t o be possessed i n v i o l a tionl'of t h e law. However, a t t h e time t h e j u s t i c e s i g n e d t h e w a r r a n t no i t e m s were l i s t e d o r d e s c r i b e d f o l l o w i n g t h e s t a t e m e n t , which was i s s u e d on t h e b a s i s of t h e a f f i d a v i t ' s a s s e r t i o n t h a t " s i m i l a r " f i l m s and p r i n t e d m a t t e r p o r t r a y i n g s i m i l a r a c t i v i t i e s could b e found on t h e premises. The r e s u l t i n g s e a r c h , which l a s t e d n e a r l y s i x hours and r e s u l t e d i n t h e s e i z u r e of a l a r g e volume of m a t e r i a l , was h e l d t o v i o l a t e t h e f o u r t h amendment. 571 Lee A r t T h e a t r e , Inc. v. V i r g i n i a involved t h e s e i z u r e of motion p i c t u r e s - under a u t 5 o r i t y of a w a r r a n t i s s u e d by a j u s t i c e of t h e peace. The w a r r a n t was i s s u e d on t h e b a s i s of an a f f i d a v i t of a p o l i c e o f f i c e r which c o n t a i n e d only t h e t i t l e s o f - t h e f i l m s and a s t a t e m e n t t h a t t h e o f f i c e r had determined from p e r s o n a l o b s e r v a t i o n of them and of t h e b i l l b o a r d i n f r o n t of t h e t h e a t e r where they were b e i n g shown t h a t t h e f i l m s were obscene. This s e i z u r e , t o o , was declared unconstitutional. 581 However, t h e Supreme Court r e c e n t l y r u l e d i n Macon v . ~ a r y l a n d 7 h a tt h e undercover purchase of obscene m a t e r i a l s i s n o t an u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l s e a r c h o r s e i z u r e s i n c e a commercial s a l e does n o t c o n s t i t u t e e i t h e r a s e a r c h o r a seizure. I t i s n o t a s e a r c h because t h e s e l l e r does n o t have any r e a s o n a b l e e x p e c t a t i o n of p r i v a c y i n a r e a s of t h e s t o r e where t h e p u b l i c i s i n v i t e d t o e n t e r and t o t r a n s a c t b u s i n e s s ; nor i s i t a s e i z u r e , s i n c e t h e s e l l e r volunt a r i l y t r a n s f e r s any p o s s e s s o r y i n t e r e s t i n t h e goods t o t h e p u r c h a s e r upon r e c e i p t of t h e funds. The d e c i s i o n expands p o l i c e a u t h o r i t y t o a c t a g a i n s t o b s c e n i t y b u t a s y e t i t s p r a c t i c a l impact i s u n c e r t a i n . 571 - 392 U.S. 58/ - 105 S.Ct. 636 (1968) (E~_Tcuriam) 2794 (1985). . PORNOGRAPHY AS A FORM OF SEX DISCREIINATION I n 1984 t h e c i t y c o u n c i l s of Minneapolis and I n d i a n a p o l i s each adopted an o r d i n a n c e which d e f i n e d pornography d e p i c t i n g abuse of women a s a form of 59 - ,/ s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , and hence a c i v i l r i g h t s v i o l a t i o n . The f4inneapolis - o r d i n a n c e was vetoed by t h e Mayor, and t h a t i n I n d i a n a p o l i s e n j o i n e d on f i r s t amendment grounds by t h e United S t a t e s Court of Appeals f o r t h e Seventh C i r c u i t 60 / i n American B o o k s e l l e r s Ass'n, I n c . v . Hudnut. However, t h e q u e s t i o n s pres e n t e d i n t h a t c a s e have n o t y e t been d e f i n i t i v e l y s e t t l e d . Both t h e Minneapolis C i t y Council and t h e I n d i a n a p o l i s City-County Council made d e t a i l e d f i n d i n g s t h a t pornography h e l p s c r e a t e and m a i n t a i n i n e q u a l i t y between t h e s e x e s and t h u s d i f f e r e n t i a l l y harms women i n a number of ways. Each o r d i n a n c e c o n t a i n e d a d e t a i l e d d e f i n i t i o n of pornography a s t h e s e x u a l l y e x p l i c i t s u b o r d i n a t i o n of women, g r a p h i c a l l y d e p i c t e d , t h a t - i n c l u d e s one o r more ' . a d d i t i o n a l elements such a s p r e s e n t i n g women who a p p a r e n t l y enjoy p a i n o r mutil a t i o n , o r women a s s e x u a l o b j e c t s who a r e t i e d up, c u t up, b r u i s e d o r physically hurt. The f o u r t y p e s of p r o h i b i t e d d i s c r i m i n a t o r y p r a c t i c e s based on t h i s d e f i n i t i o n include c o e r c i o n i n t o performing f o r pornography, f o r c i n g por- nography on a person, a s s a u l t o r p h y s i c a l a t t a c k due t o pornography, and t r a f f i c k i n g i n pornography. Men were given a s i m i l a r cause of a c t i o n i f they could demonstrate t h a t comparable male-oriented pornography r e s u l t e d i n a comparable injury. The o r d i n a n c e s were c i v i l r a t h e r t h a n c r i m i n a l i n n a t u r e , s o t h e y imposed c i v i l s a n c t i o n s r a t h e r t h a n c r i m i n a l f i n e s a n d / o r imprisonment on violators. 59/ Minneapolis Code of Ordinances 5 1 3 9 . 1 0 ( a ) ( l ) , a s proposed by Ordinance 8 3 - 0 r T 2 3 , 5 1 ; I n d i a n a p o l i s City-County Ordinance No,. 24, 1984. 601 - 771 F.2d 323 ( 7 t h C i r . 1985). The s u i t c h a l l e n g i n g t h e I n d i a n a p o l i s o r d i n a n c e was o r i g i n a l l y h e a r d by 611 t h e F e d e r a l D i s t r i c t Court f o r t h e S o u t h e r n D i s t r i c t of I n d i a n a . It h e l d t h a t - much of t h e m a t e r i a l i t encompassed w a s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y p r o t e c t e d , s i n c e i t w a s n o t l e g a l l y obscene and d i d n o t i n c i t e t o l a w b r e a k i n g and imminent l a w l e s s 621 a c t i o n as r e q u i r e d by t h e Supreme C o u r t ' s d e c i s i o n in Brandenburg v . 0 h i o T o r s u p p r e s s i o n on t h i s ground. That c o u r t , while recognizing t h e s u b s t a n t i a l governmental i n t e r e s t i n e l i m i n a t i n g s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , h e l d t h a t t h i s i n t e r e s t was n o t s o s t r o n g as t o j u s t i f y t h e s u p p r e s s i o n of c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y p r o t e c t e d s p e e c h t o t h e e x t e n t e n v i s i o n e d by t h e I n d i a n a p o l i s o r d i n a n c e . The c i r c u i t Court d i d n o t a d d r e s s t h e s e i s s u e s ; i t r a t h e r viewed t h e o r d i n a n c e as a n imper631 m i s s i b l e attempt t o e s t a b l i s h "thought c o n t r o l " and b a s e d i t s d e c i s i o n on t h e l o n g l i n e of Supreme C o u r t c a s e s which h o l d t h a t t h o u g h t s i n and of thems e l v e s , no matter now r e p r e h e n s i b l e o r r e p u g n a n t , c a n n o t c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y b e 641 penalized. Those who s u p p o r t t h i s a p p r o a c h t o r e g u l a t i n g pornography a r g u e t h a t t h e r e i s i n f a c t a s t r o n g c o r r e l a t i o n between m a t e r i a l p o r t r a y i n g s e x u a l a b u s e of women and a c t u a l a b u s e of women. 61/ - - 598 F.Supp. 1316 (S.D. 651 However, it is d i f f i c u l t t o empirically Ind. 1 9 8 4 ) . 621 395 U.S. 444 (1969). I n d i s c u s s i n g t h e i n c i t e m e n t s t a n d a r d , t h e ~ o u r t y t a t e d : " [ T l h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l g u a r a n t e e s of f r e e s p e e c h and f r e e p r e s s do n o t p e r m i t a S t a t e t o f o r b i d o r p r o s c r i b e advocacy of t h e u s e of f o r c e o r law v i o l a t i o n e x c e p t where s u c h advocacy i s d i r e c t e d t o i n c i t i n g o r p r o d u c i n g imminent l a w l e s s a c t i o n and i s l i k e l y t o i n c i t e o r p r o d u c e s u c h a c t i o n . " Id. a t 447. 64/ E.g., Brandenburg v . Ohio, s u p r a n o t e 62 ( i d e a s of t h e Ku Klux K l a n ) ; ~ o l l i F v .Smith, 578 F.2d 1197 ( 7 t h C i r . ) , c e r t . d e n i e d 439 U.S. 916 (1978) (Nazi p r o p a g a n d a ) . 651 E.g., J a c o b s , " P a t t e r n s of V i o l a n c e : A F e m i n i s t P e r s p e c t i v e on t h e ~ Z u l a t i o nof Pornography," 7 Harv. Women's L.J. 5 (1984). demonstrate this point. If the correlation becomes more evident, it is pos- sible that courts will become more sympathetic to this argument. However, only a small portion of such material is now viewed as constitutionally unprotected, and it is unlikely that this will change substantially in the forseeable future.