Interstate Circuit, a distributor of motion pictures, was prohibited by the city of Dallas from distributing a film entitled "Viva Maria". Pursuant to a 1965 city ordinance, the Motion Picture Classification Board of the City of Dallas classified the film as "not suitable for young persons" because it contained objectionable instances of "sexual promiscuity". On appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, Interstate challenged the determination of both the county court and the appeals court of Texas that the classification of the Motion Picture Classification Board should stand.
The Supreme Court concluded that the standards set forth in the ordinance were unconstitutionally vague and the ordinance was therefore unenforceable. The Court reasoned that the First Amendment protects motion pictures and to ban them based on the portrayal of undefined “sexual promiscuity" would leave too much discretion to the Motion Picture Classification Board. The Court explained that even though a city has the right to regulate the dissemination of objectionable materials to young persons, it must provide narrowly drawn, reasonable and definitive standards for officials to follow.
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