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Won U.S. Supreme Court

National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley

The Supreme Court ruled that an amendment to the National Endowment for the Arts guidelines aimed at restricting pornography was constitutionally permissible.

Red seats in a theater


In 1965, the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act gave the National Endowment for the Arts the power to award financial grants to the arts. The NEA’s guidelines stated it would grant endowments based on "artistic and cultural significance.”

Congress passed an amendment in 1990 that required the NEA to consider “general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public." The amendment was aimed, in part, at preventing the federal government from funding pornographic displays.

A performance artist whose shows often included nudity filed a lawsuit claiming the amendment was unconstitutional. Alliance Defending Freedom funded amicus efforts in support of the amendment at the Supreme Court, and in June 1998, the Court ruled that the amendment did not violate the Constitution.

Case Documents

U.S. Supreme Court