Obscene Speech

Obscene Speech

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9519-1.ch005


This chapter discusses obscene speech – a category of speech that the United States Supreme Court has excluded from First Amendment protection. The lack of constitutional protection for obscene speech provides an avenue for school officials to censor such student speech off-campus. The goal of the chapter is to provide an overview of the obscenity jurisprudence. The chapter also discusses examples of cases applying Supreme Court precedent on obscenity to censorship of off-campus student speech.
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In Miller v. California (1973), the Supreme Court affirmed its holding in Roth v. United States (1957) that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment. In Rosario v. Clark County School District (2013), a school district attempted to justify the sanctions for off-campus student speech under Miller. This chapter first discusses pertinent Supreme Court cases relating to obscenity, culminating with the Miller case. Next, this chapter discusses how a school district attempted to censor off-campus student speech as obscenity in the Rosario case.

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