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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the appellee)
(Argued the cause for the appellant)
Facts of the Case 

Law enforcement officers, under the authority of a warrant, searched Stanley's home pursuant to an investigation of his alleged bookmaking activities. During the search, the officers found three reels of eight-millimeter film. The officers viewed the films, concluded they were obscene, and seized them. Stanley was then tried and convicted under a Georgia law prohibiting the possession of obscene materials.


Did the Georgia statute infringe upon the freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment?

Decision: 9 votes for Stanley, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

The Court held that the First and Fourteenth Amendments prohibited making private possession of obscene materials a crime. In his majority opinion, Justice Marshall noted that the rights to receive information and to personal privacy were fundamental to a free society. Marshall then found that "[i]f the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds." The Court distinguished between the mere private possession of obscene materials and the production and distribution of such materials. The latter, the Court held, could be regulated by the states.

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STANLEY v. GEORGIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 02 September 2015. <>.
STANLEY v. GEORGIA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited September 2, 2015).
"STANLEY v. GEORGIA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 2, 2015,