Ginsberg V New York

Background

Under New York Law is was illegal to willfully sell to a minor under 17 any picture which depicts nudity, is harmful to minors and any magazine which taken as a whole is harmful to minors. Ginsberg and his wife operated Sam's Stationery and Luncheonette in Bellmore, Long Island. In it they sold magazines including those deemed to be "girlie". He was prosecuted from two informants in which he personally sold two 16 year old boys the "girlie" magazines. He was tried in Nassau County District Court and found guilty. The court had found that the pictures were harmful to minors under the law.

The Conviction was upheld by the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court of New York and was denied an appeal to the New York Court of Appeals.

Ginsberg argued before the court that the State of New York did not have the power to classify two different sets of the population in regards to obscene material and that is was an unconstitutional deprivation of liberty. He cited Meyer v. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters and Prince v. Massachusetts. All where the court sided with the minors.

Opinion of the Court

Justice Brennan delivered the opinion of the court. The court rejected Ginsberg’s argument that New York had deprived minors of their liberty. The court found that it was well within the state’s power to protect minors and that just because the material is not classified as obscene to adults it may still be regulated with minors.

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