Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville,
422 U.S. 205 (1975)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205 (1975)

Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville

No. 73-1942

Argued February 26, 1975

Decided June 23, 1975

422 U.S. 205


A Jacksonville, Fla., ordinance making it a public nuisance and a punishable offense for a drive-in movie theater to exhibit films containing nudity, when the screen is visible from a public street or place, held facially invalid as an infringement of First Amendment rights. Pp. 422 U. S. 208-217.

(a) The ordinance, by discriminating among movies solely on the basis of content, has the effect of deterring drive-in theaters from showing movies containing any nudity, however innocent or even educational, and such censorship of the content of otherwise protected speech cannot be justified on the basis of the limited privacy interest of persons on the public streets, who, if offended by viewing the movies, can readily avert their eyes. Pp. 422 U. S. 208-212.

(b) Nor can the ordinance be justified as an exercise of the city's police power for the protection of children against viewing the films. Even assuming that such is its purpose, the restriction is broader than permissible. since it is not directed against sexually explicit nudity or otherwise limited. Pp. 422 U. S. 212-214.

(c) Nor can the ordinance be justified as a traffic regulation. If this were its purpose, it would be invalid as a strikingly underinclusive legislative classification, since it singles out movies containing nudity from all other movies that might distract a passing motorist. Pp. 422 U. S. 214-215.

(d) The possibility of a narrowing construction of the ordinance appears remote, particularly where appellee city offered several distinct justifications for it in its broadest terms. Moreover, its deterrent effect on legitimate expression in the form of movies is both real and substantial. Pp. 422 U. S. 215-217.

288 So.2d 260, reversed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 422 U. S. 218. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 422 U. S. 218. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 422 U. S. 224.

Page 422 U. S. 206

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