from the NYT: An early history on free expression in art.

The New York Times wrote an interesting article recently to commemorate the anniversary of Grove Press, Inc. v. the United States Postal Service.
(Read the order here:, and if you can help me figure out how to access the supplementary documents for a good read I would be truly grateful!)

The article is by Fred Kaplan and can be found at

The case related to the USPS' decision, under the anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock, to prevent the sending of supposedly "lewd, lascivious, and/or obscene materials" through the U.S. Postal Service. The particular "irreverent" material was D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover," published by Grove Press. The decision not only severely affected their business, but more significantly the First Amendment protections of free expression, which Comstock and peers argued did not cover the "obscene."

Do read the article and the wonderful strategy set in motion by Charles Rembar, overturning the ban on a consitutional argument that ultimately, the First Amendment was meant to preserve the exchange and expression of ideas with even the smallest "redeeming social importance," as said in the words of Justice Brennan. As a young law student, I hadn't encountered this case before but am now absolutely inspired. Free expression in the arts is definitely not a new movement propagated by conceptual artists seeking fair use; it has historical roots in precedent and the Constitution itself.

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