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Political Science


Philip Kronebusch


Harry Blackmun is a Supreme Court Justice whose Court identity and ideology became more moderate or liberal during his twenty-four years on the Court (1970-1994). In cases dealing with the regulation of sexually explicit expression, however, he maintained a moderately conservative (pro-government censorship) position throughout his tenure. Blackmun consistently upheld the government's right to ban sexually explicit expression that had been found "obscene" under the test outlined in Miller v. California, 93 S.Ct. 2607 (1973). This was in direct contrast to the position held by Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, Blackmun's two closest Court allies in the 1980's and 90'3, that the government cannot constitutionally censor explicit or obscene expression. Most cases in which Blackmun refused to uphold a government censorship statute occurred when the expression in question had not technically been found "obscene" under the correct procedures delineated in Miller and subsequent cases.