To promote the arts, Congress created the National Endowment for the Arts ( NEA) in 1965.
In the late 1980s, part of the NEA's funds were used to support Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs. On October 5, 1990, a Jury acquitted Cicilmati's Contemporary Arts Center and its director, Dennis Barrie, of misdemeanor charges of pandering obscenity and illegal use of a minor in nudityoriented materials. A grand jury had indicted the Center and its director over its exhibit of 175 photographs entitled "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment."
Part of NEA's funds supported Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," a photograph of a crucifix inside a container of urine. Not surprisingly, complaints ensued and Senator Jesse Helms led a legislative charge against such use of public funds. Following are selected statutes concerning the NEA and portions of a 1998 Supreme Court decision that upholds § 954(d)(1) of the NEA statutes. In that statutory provision, Congress directs the NEA to take into consideration "general standards of decency and respect" when judging grant applications.
As used in this Act --
(j)The term "determined to be obscene" means determined, in a final judgment of a court of record and of competent jurisdiction in the United States, to be obscene.
(1) The term "obscene" means with respect to a project, production, workshop, or program that --
(1) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that such project, production, workshop, or program, when taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
(2) such project, production, workshop, or program depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and
(3) such project, production, workshop, or program, when taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
(a) Establishment. There is established within the Foundation a National Endowment for the Arts. . . .
(c) Program of contracts, grants-in-aid, or loans to groups and individuals for projects and productions; traditionally underrepresented recipients of financial