Constitutional Law – Due Process – Freedom of Expression – Motion Picture Censorship

The New York Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a license to exhibit the French motion picture “La Ronde” upon the grounds that it was “immoral” and “would tend to corrupt morals.” Censorship of the picture, which dealt with promiscuous sex relations, was held to be a proper exercise of the police power, since its exhibition would present a clear and present danger to the morals of the community, and the words “immoral” and “tend to corrupt morals” were held sufficiently definite for purposes of due process. In another censorship case, the Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the rejection for exhibition of the motion picture ”M,” a film giving sympathetic treatment to a schizophrenic child killer, on the ground the picture was “harmful,” and held the word “harmful” was neither vague nor indefinite. On appeal of the two cases to the United States Supreme Court, held, reversed per curiam, Burstyn v. Wilson being cited as authority without further discussion. Superior Films, Inc. v. Department of Education of State of Ohio, Commercial Pictures Corporation v. Regents of University of State of New York, (U.S. 1954) 74 S.Ct. 286.