Roth v. United States, case decided in 1957 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Samuel Roth of New York City was convicted of mailing obscene materials. On appeal his conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court, which held that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled that material is obscene if, to the average person applying contemporary community standards, the dominant overall theme appeals to prurient interest. In later decisions in 1973 and 1974 the Court held that community standards need not be national; a state can establish its own standards if it defines them explicitly.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.