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U.S. Supreme Court

Times Film Corp. v. City of Chicago, 365 U.S. 43 (1961)

Times Film Corp. v. City of Chicago

No. 34

Argued October 19-20, 1960

Decided January 23, 1961

365 U.S. 43


The Municipal Code of Chicago, § 155-4, requires submission of all motion pictures for examination or censorship prior to their public exhibition and forbids their exhibition unless they meet certain standards. Petitioner applied for a permit to exhibit a certain motion picture and tendered the required license fee, but the permit was denied solely because petitioner refused to submit the film for examination. Petitioner sued in a Federal District Court for injunctive relief ordering issuance of the permit without submission of the film and restraining the city officials from interfering with its exhibition. It did not submit the film to the court or offer any evidence as to its content. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground, inter alia, that neither a substantial federal question nor a justiciable controversy was presented.

Held: the provision requiring submission of motion pictures for examination or censorship prior to their public exhibition is not void on its face as violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and the judgment of dismissal is affirmed. Pp. 365 U. S. 44-50.

(a) This case presents a justiciable controversy. Pp. 45-46.

(b) Petitioner's narrow attack on the ordinance does not require that any consideration be given to the validity of the standards set out therein, since they are not challenged and are not before this Court. Pp. 365 U. S. 46-47.

(c) It has never been held that liberty of speech is absolute, or that all prior restraints on speech are invalid. Pp. 365 U. S. 47-49.

(d) Although motion pictures are included within the free speech and free press guaranties of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, there is no absolute freedom to exhibit publicly, at least once, every kind of motion picture. Pp. 365 U. S. 46, 365 U. S. 49-50.

272 F.2d 90 affirmed. chanrobles.com-red

Page 365 U. S. 44


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