381 U.S. 741 (1965) CAMERON ET AL. v. JOHNSON, GOVERNOR OF MISSISSIPPI, ET AL. No. 587, Misc. Supreme Court of United States. Decided June 7, 1965. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI. Arthur Kinoy, William M. Kunstler, Benjamin E. Smith, Bruce C. Waltzer, Melvin Wulf and Morton Stavis for appellants. Joe T. Patterson, Attorney General of Mississippi, and William A. Allain, Assistant Attorney General, for appellees. PER CURIAM. Appellants brought this action, inter alia, under § 1979 of the Revised Statutes, 42 U. S. C. § 1983 (1958 ed.), to enjoin enforcement of […]

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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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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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Respondent Rock Against Racism (RAR), furnishing its own sound equipment and technicians, has sponsored yearly programs of rock music at the Naumberg Acoustic Bandshell in New York City's Central Park. The city received numerous complaints about excessive noise at RAR's concerts. Rejecting various other solutions to the excessive noise and inadequate amplification problems, the city adopted a Use Guideline for the bandshell which specified that the city would furnish high quality sound equipment and retain an independent, experienced sound technician for all performances. After the city implemented this guideline, RAR amended a preexisting District Court complaint against the city to seek damages and a declaratory judgment striking down the guideline as facially invalid under the First Amendment.

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