Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Potter Stewart

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.  But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.
From his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964).  Stewart, who was an associate justice of the Supreme Court for 23 years, died on this date in 1985.

Les Amants ("The Lovers") is a 1958 French film about adultery.  It was director Louis Malle's second feature film, and starred French hottie Jeanne Moreau.  The manager of a movie theatre in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was convicted of the crime of publicly displaying obscene material when the movie played there.  He appealed his conviction and the case eventually reached the Supreme Court.

Potter Stewart is remembered today primarily for his "I know it when I see it" comment.  One commentator later wrote that this statement summarized Stewart's judicial philosophy: "particularistic, intuitive, and pragmatic."

Stewart retired from the Court in 1981, when he was 66 years old.  He was succeeded by Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court justice.

Justice Potter Stewart

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