1956 February 7

Samuel Roth (“the Prometheus of the Unprintable”) is Convicted


Samuel Roth was a publisher who had many run-ins with the law because he specialized in erotica and unauthorized publications of copyrighted works. He was convicted on on this day of distributing obscene materials in violation of federal law. He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, and the resulting decision, Roth v. United States, on June 24, 1957, was the most important post-World War II Court decision on whether obscenity is protected by the First Amendment.

Subsequent Court decisions on obscenity and pornography all involve the application or revision of Roth.

Samuel Roth had a life-long career as a pornographer, and served jail or prison terms several times. In the 1920s he became a pariah in literary circles for publishing an illegal bootleg version of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Read the Roth decision: http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/354/476/case.html

Learn more about the important Roth case: Whitney Strub, Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle Over Sexual Expression (2013)

Learn more about Samuel Roth’s incredible history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Roth

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