1967 May 8

“Redrup”: Major Victory Over Censorship and Sexually Oriented Books


Robert Redrup was the clerk at a newsstand in New York City’s Times Square. He was convicted of selling several sexually explicit books, including Lust Pool and Shame Agent, to an undercover police officer. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction on this day as a violation of the First Amendment, in Redrup v. State of New York.

Even though the decision was a major victory — marking the end of one chapter in the Supreme Court’s long struggle with the issue of obscenity and pornography since the landmark decision in Roth v. United States on June 24, 1957 — the battle continued. See particularly the Court’s decision in Miller v. California on June 21, 1973, which enunciated the “Miller Test” for determining whether a form of expression was outside the protection of the First Amendment.

The Court: “We have concluded, in short, that the distribution of the publications in each of these cases is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments from governmental suppression, whether criminal or civil, in personam or in rem.”

Read about the crusade against censorship: Charles Rembar, The End of Obscenity: The Trials of Lady Chatterley, Topic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill (1968)

Learn more about the myths and facts about pornography: Marcia Pally, Sense and Censorship: The Vanity of the Bonfires (1991), http://mediacoalition.org/files/Sense-and-Censorship.pdf

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