1953 July 14

Chicago Ban on Film “The Miracle” Overturned


A Cook County judge overturned a City of Chicago ban on the Italian film The Miracle on this day, ruling that it was not immoral, indecent, or obscene, and did not discredit any particular religion. The judge limited his ruling to this one film and did not declare the Chicago film censorship ordinance unconstitutional, as the ACLU had asked.

The Miracle was the film in question when the Supreme Court declared motion pictures a form of expression protected by the First Amendment, in Burstyn v. Wilson, the year before on May 26, 1952. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, however, the Chicago ordinance continued to be enforced.

Learn About the film and the case: Laura Wittern-Keller and Raymond Haberski, The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court  (2009)

View a timeline on the history of movie censorship: https://www.aclu.org/files/multimedia/censorshiptimeline.html

Read: Frank Walsh, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (1996)

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