Protests are public demonstrations expressing disapproval of people, beliefs, or other matters of public concern. Demonstrations in favor of people, institutions, or issues are protected in the same way.

Opinions & Commentaries

This case presents the question whether regulations embodied in a municipal ordinance abridge the freedom of speech or of the press secured against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment.[1]

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336 U.S. 77 (1949) KOVACS v. COOPER, JUDGE. No. 9. Supreme Court of United States. Submitted October 11, 1948. Decided January 31, 1949. APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF ERRORS AND APPEALS OF NEW JERSEY. George Pellettieri submitted on brief for appellant. Louis Josephson submitted on brief for appellee. Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by Osmond K. Fraenkel and Samuel Rothbard for the American Civil Liberties Union; and Lee Pressman, Frank Donner, M.H. Goldstein, Isadore Katz, Irving J. Levy, David Rein and Benjamin C. Sigal for the Congress of Industrial Organizations et al. *78 MR. JUSTICE REED announced […]

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Does the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution bar a State from use of the injunction to prohibit picketing of a place of business solely in order to secure compliance with a demand that its employees be in proportion to the racial origin of its then customers? Such is the broad question of this case.

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The petitioners, 187 in number, were convicted in a magistrate's court in Columbia, South Carolina, of the *230 common-law crime of breach of the peace. Their convictions were ultimately affirmed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, 239 S. C. 339, 123 S. E. 2d 247. We granted certiorari, 369 U. S. 870, to consider the claim that these convictions cannot be squared with the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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372 U.S. 522 (1963) FIELDS ET AL. v. SOUTH CAROLINA.   No. 399. Supreme Court of United States.   Decided March 18, 1963. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF SOUTH CAROLINA.Jack Greenberg, Constance Baker Motley, Matthew J. Perry and Lincoln C. Jenkins, Jr. for petitioners. Daniel R. McLeod, Attorney General of South Carolina, Everett N. Brandon, Assistant Attorney General, and Julian S. Wolfe for respondent. PER CURIAM. The petition for writ of certiorari is granted. The judgment of the Supreme Court of South Carolina is vacated and the case is remanded for consideration in light […]

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375 U.S. 248 (1963) FIELDS ET AL. v. CITY OF FAIRFIELD. No. 30. Supreme Court of United States. Argued December 10-11, 1963. Decided December 16, 1963. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA. Melvin L. Wulf argued the cause for appellants. With him on the brief were Charles Morgan, Jr. and Richard J. Medalie. Frank B. Parsons argued the cause and filed a brief for appellee. Assistant Attorney General Marshall, by special leave of Court, argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Cox, Louis F. Claiborne, Harold […]

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376 U.S. 776 (1964) HENRY ET AL. v. CITY OF ROCK HILL. No. 826. Supreme Court of United States. Decided April 6, 1964. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF SOUTH CAROLINA. Jack Greenberg, Constance Baker Motley, Matthew J. Perry, Lincoln C. Jenkins, Jr., Donald James Sampson and Willie T. Smith, Jr. for petitioners. PER CURIAM. When this case was last before us, we granted certiorari, vacated the judgment holding petitioners guilty of breach of the peace, and remanded the case to the Supreme Court of South Carolina “for further consideration in light of Edwards v. […]

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Appellant, the Reverend Mr. B. Elton Cox, the leader of a civil rights demonstration, was arrested and charged *538 with four offenses under Louisiana law—criminal conspiracy, disturbing the peace, obstructing public passages, and picketing before a courthouse. In a consolidated trial before a judge without a jury, and on the same set of facts, he was acquitted of criminal conspiracy but convicted of the other three offenses. He was sentenced to serve four months in jail and pay a $200 fine for disturbing the peace, to serve five months in jail and pay a $500 fine for obstructing public passages, and to serve one year in jail and pay a $5,000 fine for picketing before a courthouse. The sentences were cumulative.

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Appellant was convicted of violating a Louisiana statute which provides:

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Petitioner and a group of companions were standing near a street intersection on a Birmingham, Alabama, sidewalk which a policeman thrice requested them to clear for pedestrian passage. After the third request, all but petitioner, who had been questioning the policeman about his order, had begun to walk away, and the policeman arrested petitioner. Petitioner was tried before a court, without a jury, which, without any factfindings or opinion, convicted him of violating two ordinances, §§ 1142 and 1231, of Birmingham's city code. The Alabama Court of Appeals affirmed. Because of their breadth if read literally, these ordinances present grave constitutional problems. In other decisions subsequent to petitioner's conviction, § 1142 was construed by the Alabama Court of Appeals as applicable only to standing, loitering or walking on a street or sidewalk so as to obstruct free passage, and refusing to obey an officer's request to move on, and § 1231 was confined to the enforcement of the orders of a traffic officer while directing vehicular traffic.

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383 U.S. 131 (1966) BROWN ET AL. v. LOUISIANA. No. 41. Supreme Court of United States. Argued December 6, 1965. Decided February 23, 1966. CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA. *132 Carl Rachlin argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the brief were Robert F. Collins, Nils R. Douglas, Murphy W. Bell, Floyd McKissick and Marvin M. Karpatkin. Richard Kilbourne argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Jack P. F. Gremillion, Attorney General of Louisiana, and Carroll Buck, First Assistant Attorney General. *133 MR. JUSTICE FORTAS announced the judgment of the Court and an […]

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384 U.S. 118 (1966) NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE ET AL. v. OVERSTREET. No. 505. Supreme Court of United States. Argued March 29, 1966. Decided April 27, 1966. CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA. Robert L. Carter argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the brief were Anne Gross Feldman, Maria L. Marcus and Barbara A. Morris. Hugh P. Futrell, Jr., submitted the cause on a brief for respondent. PER CURIAM. The writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted. MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN and MR. JUSTICE FORTAS […]

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1963- On September 14, approximately 200 black and white demonstrators were arrested while picketing and protesting outside a segregated movie theater in downtown Tallahassee, FL. Later that night, in an act of solidarity with those who had been imprisoned, 99 Florida A & M students gathered in the driveway of the Leon County Jailhouse. The students sang and clapped until the sheriff ordered them to disperse. Over 100 students refused the order and were charged with violating Florida code section 821.18. Thirty-two students were subsequently convicted. Section 821.18 reads: "Every trespass upon the property of another, committed with a malicious and mischievous intent, the punishment of which is not specially provided for, shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding three months, or by fine not exceeding one hundred dollars." Fla. Stat. 821.18 (1965).

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386 U.S. 773 (1967) TURNER ET AL. v. NEW YORK. No. 399. Supreme Court of United States. Argued April 12-13, 1967. Decided May 8, 1967. CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK. Osmond K. Fraenkel argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioners. H. Richard Uviller argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Frank S. Hogan. PER CURIAM. The writ is dismissed as improvidently granted. MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom MR. JUSTICE FORTAS concurs, dissenting. This case arose out of an assembly in Duffy Square, New York City, protesting American policy in Vietnam. After […]

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On Wednesday, April 10, 1963, officials of Birmingham, Alabama, filed a bill of complaint in a state circuit court asking for injunctive relief against 139 individuals and *309 two organizations. The bill and accompanying affidavits stated that during the preceding seven days:

"[R]espondents [had] sponsored and/or participated in and/or conspired to commit and/or to encourage and/or to participate in certain movements, plans or projects commonly called `sit-in' demonstrations, `kneel-in' demonstrations, mass street parades, trespasses on private property after being warned to leave the premises by the owners of said property, congregating in mobs upon the public streets and other public places, unlawfully picketing private places of business in the City of Birmingham, Alabama; violation of numerous ordinances and statutes of the City of Birmingham and State of Alabama . . . ."
It was alleged that this conduct was "calculated to provoke breaches of the peace," "threaten[ed] the safety, peace and tranquility of the City," and placed "an undue burden and strain upon the manpower of the Police Department."The bill stated that these infractions of the law were expected to continue and would "lead to further imminent danger to the lives, safety, peace, tranquility and general welfare of the people of the City of Birmingham," and that the "remedy by law [was] inadequate." The circuit judge granted a temporary injunction as prayed in the bill, enjoining the petitioners from, among other things, participating in or encouraging mass street parades or mass processions without a permit as required by a Birmingham ordinance.[1]*310 Five of the eight petitioners were served with copies of the writ early the next morning. Several hours later four of them held a press conference. There a statement was distributed, declaring their intention to disobey the injunction because it was "raw tyranny under the guise of maintaining law and order."[2] At this press conference one of the petitioners stated: "That they had respect for the Federal Courts, or Federal Injunctions, but in the past the State Courts had favored local law enforcement, and if the police couldn't handle it, the mob would."That night a meeting took place at which one of the petitioners announced that "[i]njunction or no injunction we are going to march tomorrow." The next afternoon, Good Friday, a large crowd gathered in the vicinity of Sixteenth Street and Sixth Avenue North in Birmingham. A group of about 50 or 60 proceeded to parade along the sidewalk while a crowd of 1,000 to 1,500 onlookers stood by, "clapping, and hollering, and [w]hooping." *311 Some of the crowd followed the marchers and spilled out into the street. At least three of the petitioners participated in this march.

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390 U.S. 29 (1968) EPTON v. NEW YORK. No. 502, Misc. Supreme Court of United States. Decided January 22, 1968.[*] ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK. Eleanor Jackson Piel for petitioner in No. 502, Misc., and for appellant in No. 771, Misc. Frank S. Hogan, H. Richard Uviller and Michael Juviler for respondent in No. 502, Misc., and for appellee in No. 771, Misc. PER CURIAM. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied in No. 502, Misc. The motion to dismiss is granted in No. 771, Misc., and the appeal […]

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Appellants brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief in the District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. They sought a judgment declaring that the Mississippi Anti-Picketing Law[1] is an overly *613 broad and vague regulation of expression, and therefore void on its face. They also sought a permanent injunction restraining appellees—the Governor and other Mississippi officials—from enforcing the statute in pending or future criminal prosecutions or otherwise, alleging that the then pending prosecutions against them for violating the statute[2] were part of a plan of selective enforcement engaged in by appellees with no expectation of securing convictions, but solely to discourage appellants from picketing to protest racial discrimination in voter registration and to encourage Negro citizens to attempt to register to vote.

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391 U.S. 353 88 S.Ct. 1666 20 L.Ed.2d 642 Robert ZWICKER et al.v.James BOLL et al. No. 573, Misc. Supreme Court of the United States October Term, 1967. May 20, 1968 Melvyn Zarr, William M. Kunstler and Anthony G. Amsterdam, for appellants. Bronson C. La Follette, Atty. Gen. of Wisconsin, and William A. Platz, Thomas A. Lockyear, and Charles A. Bleck, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellees. PER CURIAM. 1 The motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. The motion to affirm is also granted and the judgment is affirmed. Cameron v. Johnson, 390 U.S. 611, 88 S.Ct. […]

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On the morning of March 31, 1966, David Paul O'Brien and three companions burned their Selective Service registration certificates on the steps of the South Boston Courthouse. A sizable crowd, including several agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, witnessed the event.[1] Immediately after the burning, members of the crowd began attacking O'Brien and his companions. An FBI agent ushered O'Brien to safety inside the courthouse. After he was advised of his right to counsel and to silence, O'Brien stated to FBI agents that he had burned his registration certificate because of his beliefs, knowing that he was violating federal law. He produced the charred remains of the certificate, which, with his consent, were photographed.

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Petitioners, three public school pupils in Des Moines, Iowa, were suspended from school for wearing black armbands to protest the Government's policy in Vietnam. They sought nominal damages and an injunction against a regulation that the respondents had promulgated banning the wearing of armbands. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the regulation was within the Board's power, despite the absence of any finding of substantial interference with the conduct of school activities. The Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, affirmed by an equally divided court. Held: 1. In wearing armbands, the petitioners were quiet and passive. They were not disruptive, and did not impinge upon the rights of others. In these circumstances, their conduct was within the protection of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth. Pp. 505-506. 2. First Amendment rights are available to teachers and students, subject to application in light of the special characteristics of the school environment. Pp. 506-507. 3. A prohibition against expression of opinion, without any evidence that the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others, is not permissible under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 507-514. 383 F.2d 988, reversed and remanded.

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This is a simple case. Petitioners, accompanied by Chicago police and an assistant city attorney, marched in a peaceful and orderly procession from city hall to the mayor's residence to press their claims for desegregation of the public schools. Having promised to cease singing at 8:30 p. m., the marchers did so. Although petitioners and the other demonstrators continued to march in a completely lawful fashion, the onlookers became unruly as the number of bystanders increased. *112 Chicago police, to prevent what they regarded as an impending civil disorder, demanded that the demonstrators, upon pain of arrest, disperse. When this command was not obeyed, petitioners were arrested for disorderly conduct.

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A black minister who led an orderly civil rights march in Birmingham, Ala. in 1963, was arrested and convicted for violating § 1159 of the city's General Code, an ordinance which proscribed participating in any parade or procession on city streets or public ways without first obtaining a permit from the City Commission. Section 1159 permitted the Commission to refuse a parade permit if its members believed that "the public welfare, peace, safety, health, decency, good order, morals or convenience require that it be refused." The minister had previously been given to understand by a member of the Commission that under no circumstances would he and his group be allowed to demonstrate in Birmingham.

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Appellant, Sidney Street, having heard a news broadcast of the shooting of James Meredith, a civil rights leader, took an American flag which he owned to a street corner near his home in New York and ignited the flag. He was arrested and thereafter charged by information with malicious mischief for violating 1425, subd. 16, par. d, of the New York Penal Law, which makes it a crime publicly to mutilate or “publicly [to] defy . . . or cast contempt upon [any American flag] either by words or act.” The information charged appellant with burning the American flag and publicly speaking defiant or contemptuous words about the flag. Appellant unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the information on the ground that the statute violated his constitutional right to free expression by punishing him for activity which he contended was a constitutionally protected "demonstration" or "protest." Appellant was tried before a judge without a jury and convicted.

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396 U.S. 371 (1970) COWGILL v. CALIFORNIA. No. 496. Supreme Court of United States. Decided January 19, 1970. APPEAL FROM THE APPELLATE DEPARTMENT OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES. Melville B. Nimmer and Laurence R. Sperber for appellant. Thomas C. Lynch, Attorney General of California, William E. James, Assistant Attorney General, and Evelle J. Younger for appellee. PER CURIAM. The motion to dismiss is granted and the appeal is dismissed. MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, with whom MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN joins, concurring. While I am of the view this appeal should be dismissed, I deem it appropriate to […]

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397 U.S. 31 (1970) JONES v. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF TENNESSEE ET AL. No. 731. Supreme Court of United States. Argued January 19-20, 1970 Decided February 24, 1970 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT. Reber F. Boult, Jr., argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Charles Morgan, Jr., Richard Bellman, Melvin L. Wulf, and Eleanor H. Norton. Robert H. Roberts, Assistant Attorney General of Tennessee, argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were David M. Pack, Attorney General, and Thomas E. Fox, Deputy Attorney General. PER […]

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A jury in Baltimore City Criminal Court convicted petitioners of violating Md. Ann. Code, Art. 27, § 123 (1967 Repl. Vol.),[1] which prohibits "acting in a disorderly manner to the disturbance of the public peace, upon any public street . . . in any [Maryland] city . . . ."[2] The *565 prosecution arose out of a demonstration protesting the Vietnam war which was staged between 3 and shortly after 5 o'clock on the afternoon of March 28, 1966, in front of a United States Army recruiting station located on a downtown Baltimore street. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals rejected petitioners' contention that their conduct was constitutionally protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and affirmed their convictions. 3 Md. App. 626, 240 A. 2d 623 (1968). The Court of Appeals of Maryland denied certiorari in an unreported order. We granted certiorari, 396 U. S. 816 (1969). We reverse.

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The petitioner, Daniel Jay Schacht, was indicted in a United States District Court for violating 18 U. S. C. § 702, which makes it a crime for any person "without authority [to wear] the uniform or a distinctive part thereof . . . of any of the armed forces of the United States . . . ."[1] He was tried and convicted by a jury, and on February 29, 1968, he was sentenced to pay a fine of $250 and to serve a six-month prison term, the maximum sentence allowable under 18 U. S. C. § 702. There is no doubt that Schacht did wear distinctive parts of the uniform of the United States Army[2] and that he was not a member of the Armed Forces. He has defended his conduct since the beginning, however, on the ground that he was authorized to wear the uniform by an Act of Congress, 10 U. S. C. § 772 (f), which provides as follows:

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401 U.S. 531 (1971) RADICH v. NEW YORK. No. 169. Supreme Court of United States. Argued February 22, 1971 Decided March 24, 1971 APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK. Richard G. Green argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Shirley Fingerhood and Melvin L. Wulf. Michael R. Juviler argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Frank S. Hogan and William C. Donnino. John B. Hightower et al. filed a brief as amicus curiae urging reversal. Louis J. Lefkowitz, Attorney General, pro se, Samuel A. Hirshowitz, First Assistant Attorney General, […]

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A Cincinnati, Ohio, ordinance makes it a criminal offense for "three or more persons to assemble . . . on any of the sidewalks . . . and there conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing by . . . ."[1]*612 The issue before us is whether this ordinance is unconstitutional on its face.

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This case may seem at first blush too inconsequential to find its way into our books, but the issue it presents is of no small constitutional significance.

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Appellee challenged a Georgia statute providing that "[a]ny person who shall, without provocation, use to or of another, and in his presence . . . opprobrious words or abusive language, tending to cause a breach of the peace . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor," and had not been narrowed by the Georgia courts to apply only to "fighting" words "which by their very utterance . . . tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace," was on its face unconstitutionally vague and overbroad under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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This case presents two unrelated questions. Appellant challenges his Kentucky conviction for disorderly conduct on the ground that the conviction and the State's statute are repugnant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments. He also challenges the constitutionality of the enhanced penalty he received under Kentucky's two-tier system for adjudicating certain criminal cases, whereby a person charged with a misdemeanor may be tried first in an inferior court and, if dissatisfied with the outcome, may have a trial de novo in a court of general *106 criminal jurisdiction but must run the risk, if convicted, of receiving a greater punishment.

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City ordinance prohibiting all picketing within 150 feet of a school, except peaceful picketing of any school involved in a labor dispute, found by the Court of Appeals to be unconstitutional because overbroad, held violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment since it makes an impermissible distinction between peaceful labor picketing and other peaceful picketing.

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Appellant Richard Grayned was convicted or his part in a demonstration in front of West Senior High School in Rockford, Illinois. On April 25, 1969, approximately 200 people -- students, their family members, and friends -- gathered next to the school grounds. Appellant, whose brother and twin sisters were attending the school, was part of this group. The demonstrators marched around on a sidewalk about 100 feet from the school building, which was set back from the street. Many carried signs which summarized the grievances: "Black cheerleaders to cheer too"; "Black history with black teachers"; "Equal rights, Negro counselors." Others, without placards, made the "power to the people" sign with their upraised and clenched fists. After warning the demonstrators, the police arrested 40 of them, including appellant. For participating in the demonstration, Grayned was tried and convicted of violating two Rockford ordinances, the "anti-picketing" ordinance and the "anti-noise" ordinance. A $25 fine was imposed for each violation.

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414 U.S. 2 (1973) PLUMMER v. CITY OF COLUMBUS.   No. 72-6897. Supreme Court of United States.   Decided October 15, 1973. ON APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO FOR FRANKLIN COUNTY.PER CURIAM. The Court of Appeals of Franklin County, Ohio, in an unreported opinion, affirmed appellant’s conviction of violating Columbus City Code § 2327.03, which provides: “No person shall abuse another by using menacing, insulting, slanderous, or profane language.” The Ohio Supreme Court, in an unreported order, sua sponte dismissed appellant’s appeal to that court “for the reason that no substantial constitutional question exists herein.” We grant […]

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414 U.S. 14 (1973) NORWELL v. CITY OF CINCINNATI. No. 72-1366. Supreme Court of United States. Decided November 5, 1973. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO. PER CURIAM. Petitioner Edward Norwell, on a plea of not guilty, was convicted of a violation of Cincinnati’s disorderly conduct ordinance. The charge was that petitioner “did unlawfully and wilfully conduct himself in a disorderly manner, with intent to annoy some person.” The judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Ohio Court of Appeals. Further appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio was dismissed by that court sua […]

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Appellant, who was arrested during an anti-war demonstration on a college campus for loudly stating, "We'll take the fucking street later (or again)," was subsequently convicted for violating the Indiana disorderly conduct statute. The State Supreme Court affirmed, relying primarily on the trial court's finding that the statement "was intended to incite further lawless action on the part of the crowd in the vicinity of appellant, and was likely to produce such action."

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Upon the Louisiana Supreme Court's reconsideration of this case in light of Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U. S. 518 (1972), pursuant to our remand, 408 U. S. 913 (1972), that court, three judges dissenting, again sustained appellant's conviction upon a charge of addressing spoken words to a New Orleans police officer in violation of New Orleans Ordinance 828 M. C. S. § 49-7, 263 La. 809, 269 So. 2d 450 (1972).[1] We noted probable jurisdiction, 412 U. S. 926 (1973), and we reverse. We hold that § 49-7, as construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, is overbroad in violation of the First and Fourteenth *132 Amendments and is therefore facially invalid. Section 49-7 provides:

"It shall be unlawful and a breach of the peace for any person wantonly to curse or revile or to use obscene or opprobrious language toward or with reference to any member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty."
The Louisiana Supreme Court on remand did not refine or narrow these words, but took them as they stood: "The proscriptions are narrow and specific— wantonly cursing, reviling, and using obscene or opprobrious language." 263 La., at 827, 269 So. 2d, at 456. Nonetheless, that court took the position that, as written, "it [§ 49-7] is narrowed to `fighting words' uttered to specific persons at a specific time . . . ." Id., at 826, 269 So. 2d, at 456. But § 49-7 plainly has a broader sweep than the constitutional definition of "fighting words" announced in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 572 (1942), and reaffirmed in Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 522, namely, "those [words] which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." That the Louisiana Supreme Court contemplated a broader reach of the ordinance is evident from its emphasis upon the city's justification for regulation of "the conduct of any person towards a member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty . . . . Permitting the cursing or reviling of or using obscene or opprobrious words to a police officer while in the actual performance of his duty would be unreasonable and basically incompatible with the officer's activities and the place where such activities are performed." 263 La., at 825, 269 So. 2d, at 456.[2]*133 At the least, the proscription of the use of "opprobrious language," embraces words that do not "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." That was our conclusion as to the word "opprobrious" in the Georgia statute held unconstitutional in Gooding v. Wilson, where we found that the common dictionary definition of that term embraced words "conveying or intended to convey disgrace" and therefore that the term was not limited to words which "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." 405 U. S., at 525. The same conclusion is compelled as to the reach of the term in § 49-7, for we find nothing in the opinion of the Louisiana Supreme Court that makes any meaningful attempt to limit or properly define—as limited by Chaplinsky and Gooding—"opprobrious," or indeed any other term in § 49-7. In that circumstance it is immaterial whether the words appellant used might be punishable under a properly limited statute or ordinance. We reaffirm our holding in Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 520-521, in this respect:
"It matters not that the words [appellant] used might have been constitutionally prohibited under a narrowly and precisely drawn statute. At least when statutes regulate or proscribe speech and when `no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating the statutes in a single prosecution,' . . . the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected expression is deemed to justify allowing `attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that the person making *134 the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with the requisite narrow specificity' . . . . This is deemed necessary because persons whose expression is constitutionally protected may well refrain from exercising their rights for fear of criminal sanctions provided by a statute susceptible of application to protected expression."
In sum, § 49-7 punishes only spoken words. It can therefore withstand appellant's attack upon its facial constitutionality only if, as authoritatively construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, it is not susceptible of application to speech, although vulgar or offensive, that is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Cohen v. California, 403 U. S. 15, 18-22 (1971); Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U. S. 1, 4-5 (1949); Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 520. Since § 49-7, as construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, is susceptible of application to protected speech, the section is constitutionally overbroad and therefore is facially invalid.

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The sheriff of Worcester County, Massachusetts, appeals from a judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit holding the contempt provision of the Massachusetts flag-misuse statute unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. 471 F. 2d 88 (1972), aff'g 343 F. Supp. 161 (Mass). We noted probable jurisdiction. 412 U. S. 905 (1973). We affirm on the vagueness *568 ground. We do not reach the correctness of the holding below on overbreadth or other First Amendment grounds.

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418 U.S. 405 (1974) SPENCE v. WASHINGTON.   No. 72-1690. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued January 9, 1974. Decided June 25, 1974. APPEAL FROM SUPREME COURT OF WASHINGTON.Peter Greenfield argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Burt Neuborne, Melvin L. Wulf, and Joel M. Gora. James E. Warme argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was Christopher T. Bayley. PER CURIAM. Appellant displayed a United States flag, which he owned, out of the window of his apartment. Affixed to both surfaces of the flag was a large peace symbol fashioned of […]

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At issue in this case is the constitutionality under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of a state statute that generally bars picketing of residences or dwellings, but exempts from its prohibition "the peaceful picketing of a place of employment involved in a labor dispute."

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The term "concerted action" encompasses unlawful conspiracies and constitutionally protected assemblies. The "looseness and pliability" of legal doctrine applicable to concerted action led Justice Jackson to note that certain joint activities have a "chameleon-like" character.[1] The boycott of white merchants in Claiborne County, Miss., that gave rise to this litigation had such a character; it included elements of criminality and elements of majesty. Evidence that fear of reprisals caused some black citizens to withhold their patronage from respondents' businesses convinced the Supreme Court of Mississippi that the entire boycott was unlawful and that each of the 92 petitioners was liable for all of its economic consequences. Evidence that persuasive rhetoric, determination to remedy past injustices, and a host of voluntary decisions by free citizens were the critical *889 factors in the boycott's success presents us with the question whether the state court's judgment is consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

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The issue in this case is whether a National Park Service regulation prohibiting camping in certain parks violates the First Amendment when applied to prohibit demonstrators from sleeping in Lafayette Park and the Mall in connection with a demonstration intended to call attention to the plight of the homeless. We hold that it does not and reverse the contrary judgment of the Court of Appeals.

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The question presented is whether respondent may be convicted for violating 18 U. S. C. § 1382, which makes it unlawful to reenter a military base after having been barred by the commanding officer. Respondent attended an open house at a military base some nine years after the commanding officer ordered him not to reenter without written permission. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that respondent could not be convicted for violating § 1382 because he had a First Amendment right to enter the military base during the open house. 710 F. 2d 1410 (1983). We granted certiorari, 469 U. S. 1071 (1984), and we now reverse.

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This case presents the question whether a municipal ordinance that makes it unlawful to interrupt a police officer in the performance of his or her duties is unconstitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment.

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485 U.S. 312 (1988) BOOS ET AL. v. BARRY, MAYOR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL. No. 86-803. Supreme Court of United States. Argued November 9, 1987 Decided March 22, 1988 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT *314 Raymond D. Battocchi argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Isaac N. Groner, Walter H. Fleischer, Alfred F. Belcuore, and James A. Bensfield. Edward E. Schwab argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief was Charles L. Reischel. Michael S. Arif filed a brief for respondent Father […]

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During the 1984 Republican National Convention, respondent Johnson participated in a political demonstration to protest the policies of the Reagan administration and some Dallas-based corporations. After a march through the city streets, Johnson burned an American flag while protesters chanted. No one was physically injured or threatened with injury, although several witnesses were seriously offended by the flag burning. Johnson was convicted of desecration of a venerated object in violation of a Texas statute, and a state court of appeals affirmed. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, holding that the State, consistent with the First Amendment, could not punish Johnson for burning the flag in these circumstances. The court first found that Johnson's burning of the flag was expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. The court concluded that the State could not criminally sanction flag desecration in order to preserve the flag as a symbol of national unity. It also held that the statute did not meet the State's goal of preventing breaches of the peace, since it was not drawn narrowly enough to encompass only those flag burnings that would likely result in a serious disturbance, and since the flag burning in this case did not threaten such a reaction. Further, it stressed that another Texas statute prohibited breaches of the peace and could be used to prevent disturbances without punishing this flag desecration.

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Pursuant to a well-publicized plan, a group of lawyers agreed not to represent indigent criminal defendants in the District of Columbia Superior Court until the District of Columbia government increased the lawyers' compensation. The questions presented are whether the lawyers' concerted conduct violated § 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and, if so, whether it was nevertheless protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.[1]

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In these consolidated appeals, we consider whether appellees' prosecution for burning a United States flag in violation of the Flag Protection Act of 1989 is consistent with the First Amendment. Applying our recent decision in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U. S. 397 (1989), the District Courts held that the Act cannot constitutionally be applied to appellees. We affirm.

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In mid-1990, a white juvenile in St. Paul was arrested for burning a cross inside the fenced yard of a black family. The juvenile was charged with violating St. Paul's Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance, which prohibited the placement of any symbol on public or private party that aroused anger in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or gender. The juvenile moved to dismiss this charge, claiming that it was overbroad and impermissibly content-based under the First Amendment. The trial court granted this motion. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance prohibited only "fighting words," which, since the United States Supreme Court's decision in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942), had been deemed unworthy of any First Amendment protection. Regulation of speech based on the content of the speech is presumptively invalid under the First Amendment. Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y. v. Public Serv. Comm'n of N.Y., 447 U.S. 530 (1980). In some cases, however, such as "fighting words," defamation, and obscenity, the Court has held that the content of the speech is of such slight social value that the speech is unworthy of First Amendment protection. See, e.g., Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957) (obscenity); Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U.S. 250 (1952) (defamation); Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942) (fighting words).

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A veterans' organization has for almost 50 years organized the Boston St. Patrick's Day parade. A group of gay, lesbian, and bisexual descendants of Irish immigrants requested permission to march in the parade. After the parade organizers denied this request, the group obtained a state court order allowing it to march. The state court relied on a Massachusetts statute that prohibits operators of public places from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. First Amendment protections attach to parades and persons in them. Gregory v. Chicago, 394 U.S. 111 (1969). One of these protections is that a speaker has the freedom to decide what not to say. Pacific Gas & Elec. C. v. Utilities Comm. of Cal, 475 U.S. 1 (1986).

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The question presented is whether an injunction that places restrictions on demonstrations outside abortion clinics violates the First Amendment. We uphold the provisions imposing "fixed bubble" or "fixed buffer zone" limitations, as hereinafter described, but hold that the provisions imposing "floating bubble" or "floating buffer zone" limitations violate the First Amendment.

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This case arises out of two separate cross-burning incidents. In May 1998, two men Richard J. Elliott and Jonathan OMara burned a cross in the yard of James Jubilee, an African-American neighbor of Elliott. In August 1998, Barry Elton Black leads a Ku Klux Klan rally on private property with the consent of the owner. Black burns a cross at the rally, which frightens a neighbor of the property owner. Prosecutors charge all three men with violating Virginias cross-burning statute, which provides: It shall be unlawful for any person or persons, with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons, to burn, or to cause to be burned, a cross on the property of another, a highway or other public place. Any person who shall violate any provision of this section shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. All three men lose their criminal cases before the trial court. A jury convicts Elliott and Black in separate proceedings. OMara enters a conditional plea of guilty. This means he pleas guilty to the offense but reserves the right to challenge the constitutionality of the cross-burning law. The court of appeals affirms the convictions of the three men in two separate cases. The appeals court reasons that the statute only proscribes true threats, a category of expression not protected by the First Amendment. The appeals court also determines that the burning of the cross is a form of fighting words, another category of speech not protected by the First Amendment. On appeal, the Virginia Supreme Court consolidates, or combines, the two cases. In a 4-3 decision, the state supreme court reverses, finding the statute violates the First Amendment. The majority reasons that the statute regulates speech based on hostility to the underlying message of cross burning.

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At a school-sanctioned and school-supervised event, a high school principal saw some of her students unfurl a large banner conveying a message she reasonably regarded as promoting illegal drug use. Consistent with established school policy prohibiting such messages at school events, the principal directed the students to take down the banner. One student— among those who had brought the banner to the event—refused to do so. The principal confiscated the banner and later suspended the student. The Ninth Circuit held that the principal's actions violated the First Amendment, and that the student could sue the principal for damages.

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For the past 20 years, the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church has picketed military funerals to communicate its belief that God hates the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality, particularly in America’s military. The church’s picketing has also condemned the Catholic Church for scandals involving its clergy. Fred Phelps, who founded the church, and six Westboro Baptist parishioners (all relatives of Phelps) traveled to Maryland to picket the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in the line of duty. The picketing took place on public land approximately 1,000 feet from the church where the funeral was held, in accordance with guidance from local law enforcement officers. The picketers peacefully displayed their signs—stating, e.g., “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Fags Doom Nations,” “America is Doomed,” “Priests Rape Boys,” and “You’re Going to Hell”—for about 30 minutes before the funeral began. Matthew Snyder’s father (Snyder), petitioner here, saw the tops of the picketers’ signs when driving to the funeral, but did not learn what was written on the signs until watching a news broadcast later that night. Snyder filed a diversity action against Phelps, his daughters—who participated in the picketing—and the church (collectively Westboro) alleging, as relevant here, state tort claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, intrusion upon seclusion, and civil conspiracy. A jury held Westboro liable for millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. Westboro challenged the verdict as grossly excessive and sought judgment as a matter of law on the ground that the First Amendment fully protected its speech. The District Court reduced the punitive damages award, but left the verdict otherwise intact. The Fourth Circuit reversed, concluding that Westboro’s statements were entitled to First Amendment protection because those statements were on matters of public concern, were not provably false, and were expressed solely through hyperbolic rhetoric.

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This case concerns a charge that two Secret Service agents, in carrying out their responsibility to protect the President, engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint-based discrimination. The episode in suit occurred in Jackson- ville, Oregon, on the evening of October 14, 2004. Presi- dent George W. Bush, campaigning in the area for a sec- ond term, was scheduled to spend the evening at a cottage in Jacksonville. With permission from local law enforce- ment officials, two groups assembled on opposite sides of the street on which the President’s motorcade was to travel to reach the cottage. One group supported the President, the other opposed him.

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