First Amendment Library:
William C. Wines

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Beauharnais produced a leaflet that called on the Mayor and City Council of Chicago “to halt the further encroachment, harassment and invasion of white people, their property, neighborhoods and persons, by the Negro.” The leaflet also called for the use of violence to further this goal. Beauharnais was charged under an Illinois law prohibiting exposing “any race, color, creed or religion to contempt, derision, or obloquy[.]”

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The questions presented by this case are similar to those involved in No. 28, Konigsberg v. State Bar of California, decided today, ante, p. 36.

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Petitioner sought a writ of certiorari from this Court under Section 237 (b) of the Judicial Code to review the action of the Supreme Court of Illinois in denying petitioner's prayer for admission to the practice of law in that state. It was alleged that the denial was "on the sole ground that he is a conscientious objector to war" or to phrase petitioner's contention slightly differently "because of his conscientious scruples against participation in war." Petitioner challenges here the right of the Supreme Court to exclude him from the bar under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which secured to him protection against state action in violation of the principles of the First Amendment.[1] Because of the importance of the tendered issue in the domain of civil rights, we granted certiorari.[2] 323 U.S. 705.

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