First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
Butler v. Michigan (docket #: 16) (1957)  [Findlaw]

Argument Date 10/16/1956
Decided 2/25/1957
Supreme Court Vote 8-1-0
Note The book at issue was John Howard Griffin's "The Devil Rides Outside." Justice Frankfurter observed that "the incidence of this enactment is to reduce the adult population of Michigan to reading only what is fit for children."
Supreme Court Ruling First Amendment claim upheld
IssueWhether a Michigan statute punishing sales of books "tending to the corruption of the morals of youth" is so vague as to violate the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause.
Majority Opinion Frankfurter, J.
Concurring Opinion Black, J.
Lower Court Pennsylvania Superior Court
Lower Court Ruling First Amendment claim denied
For Petitioner
Manuel Lee Robbins

For Respondent
Edmund E. Shepherd, Solicitor General of Michigan

For Amicus
Erwin B. Ellmann for the Metropolitan Detroit Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (for petitioner)

Horace S. Manges for the American Book Publishers Council. Inc. (for petitioner)

John Ben Shepperd, Attorney General, and Philip Sanders, Assistant Attorney General, for the State of Texas (for respondent)

Osmond K. Fraenkel for the Authors League of America, Inc. (for petitioner)

"Book Suit in High Court," The New York Times, Oct. 17, 1956, p. 33
"Court to Review Book Ban," The New York Times, Feb. 28, 1956, p. 11
"High Court Upsets Ban on 'Rugged' Writing," The Washington Post, Feb. 26, 1957, Sect. A, p. 1
"High Court Voids Obscene-Book Act," The New York Times, Feb. 26, 1957, p. 1
Dodd, Philip, "Michigan Law on Obscenity Struck Down," The Chicago Daily Tribune, Feb. 26 1957, p. 21
Schuchat, Theodor, "Clear-Cut Test of Obscenity Laws Possible," The Washington Post, April 21, 1957, Sect. E, p. 3
"Michigan Quarantine," The Washington Post, Feb. 27, 1957, Sect. A, p. 12
Emerson, Thomas, THE SYSTEM OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION (1970), pp. 471, 482, 502
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment

First Reports
Supreme Court
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Freedom Sings™
First Amendment

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment

Lesson plans
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links