American Booksellers Ass'n, Inc. v. Hudnut

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American Booksellers v. Hudnut
Court United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Full case name American Booksellers Association, Inc. v. William H. Hudnut, Mayor of Indianapolis
Decided August 27, 1985
Citation(s) 771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985)
Case history
Subsequent action(s) Summarily affirmed, 475 U.S. 1001 (1986)
Case opinions
Majority: Easterbrook
Concurrence: Swygert
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Richard Dickson Cudahy and Frank H. Easterbrook, Circuit Judges, and Luther Merritt Swygert, Senior Circuit Judge

American Booksellers v. Hudnut, 771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff'd mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986), was a 1985 court case that challenged the constitutionality of the Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance, as enacted in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Indianapolis enacted an ordinance defining "pornography" as a practice that discriminates against women. "Pornography" under the ordinance was "the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women, whether in pictures or in words, that also includes one or more of the following:

  1. Women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy pain or humiliation; or
  2. Women are presented as sexual objects who experience sexual pleasure in being raped; or
  3. Women are presented as sexual objects tied up or cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt, or as dismembered or truncated or fragmented or severed into body parts; or
  4. Women are presented as being penetrated by objects or animals; or
  5. Women are presented in scenarios of degradation, injury abasement, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual; or
  6. Women are presented as sexual objects for domination, conquest, violation, exploitation, possession, or use, or through postures or positions of servility or submission or display."

The statute provides that the "use of men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women in paragraphs (1) through (6) above shall also constitute pornography under this section".[1]

The case was first heard by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Petitioners appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.


Judge Easterbrook, writing for the court, held that the ordinance's definition and prohibition of "pornography" was unconstitutional.[2] The ordinance did not refer to the prurient interest, as required of obscenity statutes by the Supreme Court in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).[3] Rather, the ordinance defined pornography by reference to its portrayal of women, which the court held was unconstitutional, as "the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message [or] its ideas."[4]

See also


  1. Indianapolis Code § 16-3(q).
  2. American Booksellers v. Hudnut, 771 F.2d 323, 332 (7th Cir. 1985).
  3. American Booksellers, 771 F.2d at 324.
  4. American Booksellers, 771 F.2d at 324, quoting Police Department v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92 (1972).

External links

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