When man was first in the jungle he took care of himself. When he entered a societal group, controls were necessarily imposed. But our society — unlike most in the world — presupposes that freedom and liberty are in a frame of reference that makes the individual, not government, the keeper of his tastes, beliefs, and ideas. That is the philosophy of the First Amendment; and it is the article of faith that sets us apart from most nations in the world.
Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton, 413 U.S. 49, 73 (1973).
I am forced to conclude that the concept of “obscenity” cannot be defined with sufficient specificity and clarity to provide fair notice to persons who create and distribute sexually oriented materials, to prevent substantial erosion of protected speech as a byproduct of the attempt to suppress unprotected speech, and to avoid very costly institutional harms. Given these inevitable side effects of state efforts to suppress what is assumed to be unprotected speech, we must scrutinize with care the state interest that is asserted to justify the suppression. For in the absence of some very substantial interest in suppressing such speech, we can hardly condone the ill effects that seem to flow inevitably from the effort.
Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton, 413 U.S. 49, 103 (1973)