First Amendment Pornography Case Brewing in Staunton Virginia

The owner of an adult bookstore has been charged by a Virginia grand jury with 16 felony obsenity charges for his business in Staunton Virginia. The local prosecutor Raymond C. Robertson has run on the promise to crackdown on the store.

In Miller v. California (1973), the Supreme Court established a standard three-part legal definition of obscenity that requires a court to look at whether the material appeals to the prurient interest; whether it is patently offensive, sexual conduct defined by state law; and whether, taken as a whole, its lacks serious literal, artistic, political or scientific value. It is a very hard standard to establish today and the Supreme Court has recognized that consenting adults have a protected right to such speech.

Robertson, however, appears to be riding the wave of public popularity, in declaring. that he would not “allow dissemination of pornographic material in Staunton.” Of course, it is not up to Robertson or the good citizens of Staunton what consenting adults can read or watch. This is a case to watch, however, with the addition of Sam Alito on the Court. It is still doubtful that there are five justices who would ramp up the community standard to allow this type of censorship. Nevertheless, with the start of the election season, other political figures are likely to be drawn to the movement.