Why is Miller V. California important for Obscenity?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miller v. California is important for obscenity because it was the case in which the Supreme Court laid down the test that is, for the most part, currently in use for determining whether something is obscene and therefore can be banned.

According to Chief Justicer Burger, who wrote for the Court in this case, there was a three pronged test for determining whether something was obscene.  To be obscene, something had to meet all three of these criteria,.  It had to be found that

  • the "average person," using "contemporary community standards" would find that the work as a whole "appeals to the prurient interest."
  • the work shows specific sexual conduct in "a patently offensive way"
  • the work taken as a whole, "lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

If all three of these apply, the work is obscene.