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07-10-24, Cases - United States v O'Brien(1968 Facts On the...

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United States v. O’Brien (1968) Facts : On the morning of March 31, 1966, David Paul O'Brien and three companions burned their draft cards on the steps of the South Boston Courthouse, in front of a crowd that happened to include several FBI agents. After the four men came under attack from some of the crowd, an FBI agent ushered O'Brien inside the courthouse and advised him of his rights. O'Brien proudly confessed to the agent and produced the charred remains of the certificate. He explained to the jury that he burned the draft card publicly to persuade others to oppose the war, "so that other people would reevaluate their positions with Selective Service, with the armed forces, and reevaluate their place in the culture of today, to hopefully consider my position." Question : First amendment rights Holding : ruled that a criminal prohibition against burning a draft card did not violate the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. Though the Court recognized that O'Brien's conduct was expressive as a protest against the Vietnam War, it considered the law justified by a significant government interest that was unrelated to the suppression of speech and was tailored towards that end. Rationale : First, the law was, to the Court, unquestionably within the "broad and sweeping" constitutional powers of Congress under Article I to "raise and support armies" by "classify[ing] and conscript[ing] manpower for military service." Under the second prong of the test, the issuance of registration certificates was regarded as a "legitimate and substantial administrative
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  • Fall '07
  • Moon
  • First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Republican national convention, amendment rights Holding, draft cards

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