Author [EN] [PL] [ES] [PT] [IT] [DE] [FR] [NL] [TR] [SR] [AR] [RU] Topic: USA Only Nudism Law Part 1 - Smith v. California (1959)  (Read 1044 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Waytwofast

  • N Forum Veteran
  • Nude without Towel
  • *****
  • Posts: 455
  • Country: us
  • Location: United States
  • Total likes: 1
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 31
  • Hi, I'm David :)
  • Referrals: 1
USA Only Nudism Law Part 1 - Smith v. California (1959)
« on: April 17, 2013, 04:34:46 am »
Disclaimer #1: I am not an attorney, I cannot provide anyone with legal advice, nor can I can I guarantee the accuracy of this brief. Before attempting to do anything that you believe maybe illegal you should contact a licensed attorney. the American Association of Nudist Recreation can probably help in that area.

Disclaimer #2: I post this because I believe that everyone should be aware of their rights. As nudists we must know what are rights are when we're contemplating doing something that could get us in trouble. While the Supreme Court seem to be defending us based on the First Amendment, in this changing world that could change any day. We must stay up to date about our rights and the laws. Please consult a licensed attorney if you need specific or general information...

Smith v. California (1959)
361 U.S. 147
Vote: 9-0

The Facts of the case are these: the “appellant [Smith] the proprietor of a bookstore, was convicted in a California Municipal Court under a Los Angeles city ordinance which makes it unlawful ‘for any person to have in his possession any obscene or indecent writing, [or] book … in any place of business where … books … are sold or kept for sale.’ The offense was defined by the Municipal Court, and by the Appellate Department of the Superior Court, which affirmed the Municipal Court judgment imposing a jail sentence on [Smith], as consisting solely of the possession, in the appellant’s bookstore, of a certain book found upon judicial investigation to be obscene. The definition include no element of scienter – knowledge by appellant of the contents of the book – and thus the ordinance was construed as imposing a ‘strict’ or ‘absolute’ criminal liability. The appellant made timely objection below that if the ordinance were so construed it would be in conflict with the Constitution of the United States. This contention, together with other contentions based on the Constitution, was rejected, and the case comes here on appeal.”

The Issues in this case are these: 1. Did the California ordinance against obscene and indecent writing violate the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States? 2. Did the California Municipal Court err by finding Smith ‘absolutely’ criminally liable?

The Holding in this case are these:

1. Did the California ordinance against obscene and indecent writing violate the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?
Yes…

2. Did the California Municipal Court err by finding Smith ‘absolutely’ criminally liable?
Yes…

The Court Held: On the first issue the Court found that “the strict liability aspect of this law required that the bookstore owner know the character of every book he/she sell or possibly face criminal charges. This, the court says ‘imposes a severe limitation on the public’s access to constitutionally protected matter…” On the ‘absolute criminal liability: the Court found that “the existence of a mens rea (having knowledge of an action) is the rule of, rather than the exception to, the principles of Anglo-American criminal jurisprudence…” Because the store owner had no mens rea, he didn’t have physical knowledge of the character of the books he was selling, he had no ability to know he was committing a crime. Because the ‘strict liability’ aspect negatively impacts on the First Amendment, the Court found that the ‘strict liability’ aspect violated the First Amendment of potential customers because the store owner would have to highly limit his book selection for fear of criminal actions.

There were no dissenting opinions in this case…

The significance of this case is this: The Court’s has said that there are ‘fundamental freedoms to speech and press’ because of this the Court finds that while ‘obscene’ material is not protected by the Constitution as speech, ordinances such as the one California tried to enforce encroached too far into the first amendment rights of the citizens, the Court ended with “It is plain to us that the ordinance in question, though aimed at obscene matter, has such a tendency to inhibit constitutionally protected expression that it cannot stand under the Constitution.”

My Opinion this case was the beginning of a change in the country. The Supreme Court will eventually decide what matter is obscene and what matter is not obscene. This is very important to us nudists, who before this decision might be arrested for handing out flyers involving nudism because states would have considered it obscene or indecent. This case started the ball rolling towards the first amendment, and away from restricting art, speech, etc.

Briefed by: DAWH
4/17/2013

***I would like to thank the administrators of this forum for allowing me to publish this, and I hope that it doesn't violate any of the rules. This brief is not to convey any political or religious opinion, this brief is a summary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, and at the time of issuance (1959) it was the interpretation of the Court.***
Fiat Justitia et Pereat Mundus
(Do What's Right, Come What May)

Offline AElf

  • Free range naked Færie Princess
  • Female Chat
  • Naturist Superhero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1519
  • Country: ca
  • Location: Maritimes
  • Total likes: 1
  • Gender: Female
  • Age: 29
  • Referrals: 0
Re: USA Only Nudism Law Part 1 - Smith v. California (1959)
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 10:26:34 am »
Strictly speaking, I'd just like to say "Who cares?"

If the practice and/or advocacy of naturism/nudism within the U.S. involves trekking up the steps of the Supreme Court at every turn of the screw then you are not dealing with fundamental principles of liberty but with a burgeoning legal industry wherein, win or lose, the person whose fundamental liberty has been abridged is ruined financially.  Regarding the Supremes themselves, the decisions they render is based far more on politics and personal prejudice than on the law itself.  They interpret the law.  Interpretation is always a subjective matter.  Appointment to the court is always a matter of politics.  Whichever side has the most votes wins, hence the eternal congressional fight over appointments.
"Mankind is a frigid and ashamed creature. If we cannot deal with the basics of nudity then how on earth are we to make it in the world?" Naked Imp

"Don't make me release my flying monkeys" Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West

Offline Waytwofast

  • N Forum Veteran
  • Nude without Towel
  • *****
  • Posts: 455
  • Country: us
  • Location: United States
  • Total likes: 1
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 31
  • Hi, I'm David :)
  • Referrals: 1
Re: USA Only Nudism Law Part 1 - Smith v. California (1959)
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2013, 03:18:43 pm »
I would agree, but I would also say that the Supreme over the past 50 years have held up the right of nudists to practice their lifestyle, through material such as that, which was discussed in this case. In the 50's before the whole hippy movement, a nude person was considered obscene and indecent... This was the way of our times... Getting into the next decades, the idea of an image of a nude child were brought up, and that would be fought through the Courts into the 2000s, and at almost every turn the government was denied the right to infringe on the First Amendment.

Fiat Justitia et Pereat Mundus
(Do What's Right, Come What May)