Swearinger v. United States,
161 U.S. 446 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Swearinger v. United States, 161 U.S. 446 (1896)

Swearinger v. United States

No. 567

Submitted October 21, 1895

Decided March 9, 1896

161 U.S. 446



The newspaper article in the note * on the opposite page, while its language is coarse, vulgar, and, as applied to an individual, libelous, was not of such a lewd, lascivious and obscene tendency, calculated to corrupt and debauch the minds and morals of those into whose hands it might fall, as to make it an offense to deposit it in the Post Office of the United States to be conveyed by mail and delivered to the person to whom it was addressed.

In the District Court of the United States for the District

Page 161 U. S. 447

of Kansas, November term, 1895, Dan K. Swearingen was indicted, under the provisions of section 3893 of the Revised Statutes, for depositing in the Post Office of the United States, at Burlington, Kansas, to be conveyed by mail and delivered to certain named persons a certain publication or newspaper, entitled "The Burlington Courier," dated September 21, 1894, and containing a certain article charged to be of an obscene, lewd, and lascivious character, and non-mailable matter. *

The indictment contained three counts, differing only in the names of the persons to whom copies of the newspapers

Page 161 U. S. 448

were addressed. In each count the article was charged to be of an obscene, lewd and lascivious nature. The defendant moved to quash the indictment because the same did not state or charge a public offence, and because there were several offences improperly joined in each count. This motion was overruled. The defendant pleaded not guilty; a trial was had; and a verdict of guilty was rendered. Thereupon the defendant filed a motion in arrest of judgment and for a new trial. These motions were overruled, and the defendant was sentenced to be imprisoned at hard, labor in the penitentiary for the period of one year, to pay a fine of $50, and to pay the costs of prosecution. Thereupon a writ of error was sued out to this court.

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