A person or group of people is considered a captive audience when they are forced to hear a message. At a college or university, this may include students who are required to sit and listen to a speech or program designed to convince or compel them to adopt a political and/or social orthodoxy.

Opinions & Commentaries

New York City has adopted an ordinance which makes it unlawful to hold public worship meetings on the streets *291 without first obtaining a permit from the city police commissioner.[1] Appellant, Carl Jacob Kunz, was convicted and fined $10 for violating this ordinance by holding a religious meeting without a permit. The conviction was *292 affirmed by the Appellate Part of the Court of Special Sessions, and by the New York Court of Appeals, three judges dissenting, 300 N. Y. 273, 90 N. E. 2d 455 (1950). The case is here on appeal, it having been urged that the ordinance is invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment.

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The appellant here, Jack H. Breard, a regional representative of Keystone Readers Service, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation, was arrested while going from door to door in the City of Alexandria, Louisiana, soliciting subscriptions for nationally known magazines. The arrest was solely on the ground that he had violated an ordinance because he had not obtained the prior consent of the owners of the residences solicited. Breard, a resident of Texas, was in charge of a crew of solicitors who go from house to house in the various cities and towns in the area under Breard's management and solicit subscriptions for nationally known magazines and periodicals, including among others the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, Country Gentleman, Holiday, Newsweek, American Home, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Pic, Parents, Today's Woman and True. These solicitors spend only a few days in each city, depending upon its size. Keystone sends a card from its home office to the new subscribers acknowledging receipt of the subscription and thereafter the periodical is forwarded to the subscriber by the publisher in interstate commerce through the mails.

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Appellants challenge the constitutionality of Title III of the Postal Revenue and Federal Salary Act of 1967, 81 Stat. 645, 39 U. S. C. § 4009 (1964 ed., Supp. IV), under which a person may require that a mailer remove his name from its mailing lists and stop all future mailings to the householder. The appellants are publishers, distributors, owners, and operators of mail order houses, mailing list brokers, and owners and operators of mail service organizations whose business activities are affected by the challenged statute.

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Paul Robert Cohen was convicted of violating California Penal Code § 415, which criminalizes "maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person . . . by . . . offensive conduct," for wearing a jacket with the phrase "Fuck the Draft" printed on the back. Cohen wore the jacket in the Los Angeles County Courthouse, and argued that his display of the expletive was there to communicate the sincerity and depth of his feelings regarding the draft and the Vietnam War. Women and children were present in the hallway of the courthouse where Cohen was arrested, and their presence was used as justification for his arrest. Cohen argued that his conviction violated his First Amendment rights through the Fourteenth Amendment's incorporation of those rights against the states. His argument was unsuccessful in front of the state court of appeals, which upheld his conviction. The State of California had argued that wearing the jacket constituted conduct, not speech, and therefore the conviction was justified and did not violate the First Amendment. The Supreme Court of the United States disagreed, holding that wearing the jacket was, in fact, speech. Further, although expletives can be used as "fighting words," they must be directed at the listener, and Cohen's jacket was not. Potentially offended parties had the choice of looking away. Accordingly, California's statute as applied violated Cohen's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and the decision of the California Court of Appeals was reversed.

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A sheriff and his deputies were dispersing a campus anti-war demonstration that blocked a public street when one of the protestors said, “We’ll take the fucking streets later.” The protestor was convicted for violating Indiana’s disorderly conduct statute. Overruling the Indiana Supreme Court, the Supreme Court held that “the statement could be taken as counsel for present moderation; at worst it amounted nothing more than advocacy of illegal action at some indefinite future time.” The Supreme Court held that the statement did not meet the Brandenburg standard (Brandenburg v. Ohio) for incitement which requires a statement to be directed at and likely to produce imminent lawless action. Nor did it fit the “narrowly limited classes of speech” that states may punish (Gooding v. Wilson), such as obscenity or “fighting words.”

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418 U.S. 298 (1974) LEHMAN v. CITY OF SHAKER HEIGHTS ET AL. No. 73-328. Supreme Court of United States. Argued February 26-27, 1974. Decided June 25, 1974. CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO. Leonard J. Schwartz argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the brief were Stanley K. Laughlin, Jr., Harry J. Lehman,… Read more

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This case presents a challenge to the facial validity of a Jacksonville, Fla., ordinance that prohibits showing films containing nudity by a drive-in movie theater when its screen is visible from a public street or place.

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Upon hearing of an automobile accident, an Ohio lawyer contacted the parents of one of the injured drivers and visited the daughter in the hospital. He met with the 18-year-old daughter in the hospital. He offered to represent her. He also approached her passenger, another 18-year-old girl, who was at home recovering after being released from the hospital. While both young women eventually fired him, he did obtain some of the insurance money in a settlement for the breach of contract claim he brought against the driver. The two young women filed complaints with a bar grievance committee. The Ohio State Bar Association filed a formal complaint with the Disciplinary Board of the Ohio Supreme Court, which rejected appellant's defense that his conduct was protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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After schools were ordered to be desegregated, an African American school teacher complained frequently to the principal that her students, who were still predominantly black, were not being provided fundamental resources as compared to other classes and schools. At the end of the year, she was told that her teaching contract would not be renewed because of her refusal to cooperate with the administration and her “antagonistic and hostile attitude” throughout the school year.

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