Saturday, December 7, 2013

Freedman v. Maryland case brief

Freedman v. Maryland case brief summary
380 U.S. 51 (1965)

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which affirmed his conviction for exhibiting a motion picture at his theatre without first submitting the picture to the State Board of Censors (Board) as required by Md. Code Ann. art. 66A, § 2 (1957).

Defendant wished to challenge the constitutionality of a state censorship statute that required submission of all motion pictures to the Board prior to their exhibition. He exhibited a film without first submitting it to the Board and was subsequently convicted of violating the statute, Md. Code Ann. art. 66A, § 2 (1957). The judgment of the trial court was affirmed, and on appeal of that decision the reviewing court ruled in favor of defendant.

  • The Court held that defendant's refusal to submit the film to the Board in violation only of § 2 did not restrict defendant to an attack on that section alone. 
  • The Court found validity in defendant's contention that § 2 effected an invalid prior restraint on the freedom of speech because the structure of the other provisions of the statute contributed to the infirmity of § 2, and that he did not assert that the other provisions were independently invalid. 
  • The Court found that the statute lacked sufficient safeguards against undue inhibition of protected expression, and that rendered the § 2 requirement of prior submission of films to the Board an invalid previous restraint in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Defendant's conviction for violation of a statute censorship statute was reversed.

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