Freedman v. Maryland

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Freedman v. Maryland
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued November 19, 1964
Decided March 1, 1965
Full case name Freedman v. Maryland
Citations 380 U.S. 51 (more)
85 S. Ct. 734; 13 L. Ed. 2d 649; 1965 U.S. LEXIS 1732; 1 Media L. Rep. 1126
The Maryland law is unconstitutional, since it provides the danger of unduly suppressing protected expression.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Earl Warren
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · William O. Douglas
Tom C. Clark · John M. Harlan II
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Arthur Goldberg
Case opinions
Majority Brennan, joined unanimously
Concurrence Douglas, joined by Black

Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51 (1965), was a United States Supreme Court case that ended government-operated rating boards with a decision that a rating board could only approve a film and had no power to ban a film. The ruling also concluded that a rating board must either approve a film within a reasonable time, or go to court to stop a film from being shown in theatres. Other court cases determined that television stations are federally licensed, so local rating boards have no jurisdiction over films shown on television. When the movie industry set up its own rating system—the Motion Picture Association of America—most state and local boards ceased operating.


Ronald Freedman challenged the law of Maryland that films must be submitted to the Maryland State Board of Censors before being shown in theaters, claiming it unconstitutional; violating freedom of expression granted by the First Amendment.

Opinion of the Court

In a unanimous opinion by Justice Brennan, the Court held that a rating board could only approve a film and had no power to ban a film.

See also


Further reading

  • Gregory, Donald Dean (1976). Compliance in Three Cities: The Impact of Freedman v. Maryland. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University. OCLC 11095076.
  • Hunt, Richard C. (1966). "Constitutional Law: Applicability of Freedman v. Maryland Standards to Censorship Practices of United States Customs Officials". California Law Review. 54 (4): 1832–1843. doi:10.2307/3479402. JSTOR 3479402.
  • Verani, John R. (1965). "Motion Picture Censorship and the Doctrine of Prior Restraint". Houston Law Review. 3: 11.

External links

  • Text of Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51 (1965) is available from:  Justia  Library of Congress  Oyez (oral argument audio) 
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