Compelled speech occurs when governments require citizens to adopt or to indicate their adherence to an official point of view on particular political, philosophical, social, or other such subjects. While the government can often force citizens to conform their conduct to the requirements of the law, the realm of the mind, the spirit, and the heart is, in the United States, beyond the reach of official power. The obligation to profess a governmental creed—political, religious, or ideological—invades a critical constitutional and human right: freedom of belief and conscience.
March 20, 1942, the State of Mississippi enacted a statute the title of which declares that it is intended to secure the peace and safety of the United States and of the State of Mississippi during war and to prohibit acts detrimental to public peace and safety. The first section, with which alone we are here concerned, provides:"That any person who individually, or as a member of any organization, association, or otherwise, shall intentionally preach, teach, or disseminate any teachings, creed, theory, or set of alleged principles, orally, or by means of a phonograph or other contrivance of any kind or nature, or by any other means or method, or by the distribution of any sort of literature, or written or printed matter, designed and calculated to encourage violence, sabotage, or disloyalty to the government of the United States, or the state of Mississippi, or who by action or speech, advocates the cause of the enemies of the United States or who gives information as to the military operations, or plans of defense or military secrets of the nation or this state, by speech, letter, map or picture which would incite any sort of racial distrust, disorder, prejudices or hatreds, or which reasonably tends to create an attitude of stubborn refusal to salute, honor or respect the flag or government of the United States, or of the state of Mississippi, shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment in the state penitentiary until treaty of peace be declared by the United States but such imprisonment shall not exceed ten years."At the June 1942 term of the Madison County Circuit Court, Taylor, the appellant in No. 826, was indicted for orally disseminating teachings designed and calculated to encourage disloyalty to the government of the United States and that of the State of Mississippi; and for orally disseminating teachings and distributing literature and printed matter reasonably tending to create an attitude of stubborn refusal to salute, honor, and respect the flag and government of the United States and of the State of Mississippi, and designed and calculated to encourage disloyalty to the government of the United States. READ MORE
The West Virginia State Board of Education adopted a resolution ordering that saluting the flag become “a regular part of the program of activities in the public schools,” and that all teachers and pupils “shall be required to participate in the salute honoring the Nation represented by the Flag.” It also provided that “refusal to salute the Flag be regarded as an act of insubordination, and shall be dealt with accordingly.” Failure to conform was “insubordination,” dealt with by expulsion, and readmission was denied by statute until compliance. Meanwhile, the expelled child was “unlawfully absent,” and could be proceeded against as a delinquent. Parents or guardians were liable to prosecution, and, if convicted, were subject to fine not exceeding $50 and jail term not exceeding thirty days. The appellees, who identified as Jehovah’s Witnesses, brought suit in the United States District Court for an injunction to restrain enforcement of these laws and regulations. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider that the flag is a “graven image” within the meaning of the Biblical Second Commandment, and for that reason, they refuse to salute it. READ MORE
We review from the standpoint of its validity under the Federal Constitution a judgment of civil contempt entered against petitioner, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in the courts of Alabama. The question presented is whether Alabama, consistently with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, can compel petitioner to reveal to the State's Attorney General the names and addresses of all its Alabama members and agents, without regard to their positions or functions in the Association. The judgment of contempt was based upon petitioner's refusal to comply fully with a court order requiring in part the production of membership lists. Petitioner's claim is that the order, in the circumstances shown by this record, violated rights assured to petitioner and its members under the Constitution. READ MORE
The question presented here is whether the provisions of a Los Angeles City ordinance restricting the distribution of handbills "abridge the freedom of speech and of the press secured against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution." The ordinance, § 28.06 of the Municipal Code of the City of Los Angeles. provides:
"No person shall distribute any hand-bill in any place under any circumstances, which does not have printed on the cover, or the face thereof, the name and address of the following:
"(a) The person who printed, wrote, compiled or manufactured the same.
"(b) The person who caused the same to be distributed; provided, however, that in the case of a fictitious person or club, in addition to such fictitious name, the true names and addresses of the owners, managers or agents of the person sponsoring said hand-bill shall also appear thereon."
The petitioner was arrested and tried in a Los Angeles Municipal Court for violating this ordinance. It was stipulated that the petitioner had distributed handbills in Los Angeles, and two of them were presented in evidence. Each had printed on it the following:National Consumers Mobilization,Box 6533,Los Angeles 55, Calif. READ MORE
367 U.S. 820 (1961) LATHROP v. DONOHUE. No. 200. Supreme Court of United States. Argued January 18, 1961. Decided June 19, 1961. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF WISCONSIN.Trayton L. Lathrop and Leon E. Isaksen argued the cause and filed a brief for appellant. John W. Reynolds, Attorney General of Wisconsin, and Gordon… Read more READ MORE
Alleging noncompliance with Alabama's corporate registration and business qualification laws, the State in 1956 brought ouster proceedings against the petitioner, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a New York membership corporation with an office in Alabama and doing business there, and it was barred under an ex parte restraining order from operating in the State. Before any hearing on the merits, a contempt judgment, which the State Supreme Court on procedural grounds refused to review, was rendered against the NAACP for failure to produce its membership lists and other records under court order. Without reaching the validity of the underlying restraining order, this Court reversed, and, following reinstatement by the State Supreme Court of the contempt judgment, reversed again. In 1960, the NAACP, still prohibited from operating in Alabama, sued in a federal court alleging failure by the Alabama courts to afford it a hearing on the merits. The case reached this Court a third time, and, in 1961, was remanded with instructions that the Federal District Court be directed to try the case on the merits unless the State did so by a certain time. The State Circuit Court then heard the case; found that the NAACP had violated the State's constitution and laws; and permanently enjoined it from doing business in the State. The State Supreme Court affirmed, solely on the basis of a procedural rule, which it applied to the NAACP's brief, that where unrelated assignments of error are argued together and one is without merit, the others will not be considered. READ MORE
The issue in this case is whether a state statute granting a political candidate a right to equal space to reply to criticism and attacks on his record by a newspaper violates the guarantees of a free press. READ MORE
New Hampshire statutes require that noncommercial motor vehicles bear license plates embossed with the state motto, "Live Free or Die," and make it a misdemeanor to obscure the motto. Appellees, Maynard and his wife, who are followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses faith, view the motto as repugnant to their moral, religious, and political beliefs, and accordingly they covered up the motto on the license plates of their jointly owned family automobiles. Appellee Maynard was subsequently found guilty in state court of violating the misdemeanor statute on three separate charges and upon refusing to pay the fines imposed was sentenced to, and served, 15 days in jail. READ MORE
Soon after appellees had begun soliciting in appellant privately owned shopping center's central courtyard for signatures from passersby for petitions in opposition to a United Nations resolution, a security guard informed appellees that they would have to leave because their activity violated shopping center regulations prohibiting any visitor or tenant from engaging in any publicly expressive activity that is not directly related to the center's commercial purposes. Appellees immediately left the premises and later filed suit in a California state court to enjoin the shopping center and its owner (also an appellant) from denying appellees access to the center for the purpose of circulating their petitions. READ MORE
This case presents the question whether certain disclosure requirements of the Ohio Campaign Expense Reporting Law, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3517.01 et seq. (1972 and Supp. 1981), can be constitutionally applied to the Socialist Workers Party, a minor political party which historically has been the object of harassment by government officials and private parties. The Ohio statute requires every political party to report the names and addresses of campaign contributors and recipients of campaign disbursements. In Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1 (1976), this Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling disclosures by a minor political party that can show a "reasonable probability" that the compelled disclosures will subject those identified to "threats, harassment, or reprisals." Id., at 74. Employing this test, a three-judge District Court for the Southern District of Ohio held that the Ohio statute is unconstitutional as applied to the Socialist Workers Party. We affirm. READ MORE
475 U.S. 1 (1986) PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC CO. v. PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF CALIFORNIA ET AL. No. 84-1044. Supreme Court of United States. Argued October 8, 1985 Decided February 25, 1986 APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA*3 Robert L. Harris argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs was… Read more READ MORE
Since 1947, the city of Boston has authorized the Council, a private group, to organize the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Council did not admit GLIB to the 1993 parade claiming such an admission would violate the parade’s “traditional religious and social values.” Massachusetts courts required the Council to admit GLIB based on a state public-accommodation law. READ MORE
When law schools began restricting the access of military recruiters to their students because of disagreement with the Government's policy on homosexuals in the military, Congress responded by enacting the Solomon Amendment. See 10 U. S. C. § 983 (2000 ed. and Supp. IV). That provision specifies that if any part of an institution of higher education denies military recruiters access equal to that provided other recruiters, the entire institution would lose certain federal funds. The law schools responded by suing, alleging that the Solomon Amendment infringed their First Amendment freedoms of speech and association. The District Court disagreed but was reversed by a divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which ordered the District Court to enter a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Solomon Amendment. We granted certiorari. READ MORE
(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2009 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for… Read more READ MORE
(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2012 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for… Read more READ MORE