Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) Facts : Chaplinsky, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, was convicted under a New Hampshire statute forbidding the use of “any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is lawfully in any street or other public place,” or with intent to “deride, offend, or annoy him.” Chaplinsky became embroiled in a disturbance while distributing religious literature on a busy street. When a policeman arrived, who had come to investigate reports of a riot, Chaplinsky called him a “racketeer” and a “fascist.” Chaplinsky appealed his conviction on grounds that the statute was invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment’s incorporation of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech, of the press, and of worship. Question : violation of first amendment? Holding : No – fighting words. Rationale : There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These
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