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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1261
AUTHOR: William Joseph Brennan, Jr. (1906–97)
QUOTATION: But implicit in the history of the First Amendment is the rejection of obscenity as utterly without redeeming social importance.
ATTRIBUTION: Justice WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, JR., Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 484 (1957).

This is often quoted as “utterly without redeeming social value.” The decision also cited the test used in American courts in judging obscenity: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest” (p. 489).

“This [decision] was the first definition of obscenity offered by the court. It was modified in several subsequent decisions and finally replaced with another standard in the 1973 case of Miller v. California.”—Congressional Quarterly Inc., The Supreme Court and Its Work, p. 215 (1981).
SUBJECTS: Obscenity