Study Guide

Study Guide - POSC 130 Final Study Guide Transformation of...

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POSC 130 Final Study Guide Transformation of disputes: The emergence and transformation of disputes, especially before they enter formal legal institutions, is a neglected topic in the sociology of law. Texas v Johnson Facts of the Case: In 1984, in front of the Dallas City Hall, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag as a means of protest against Reagan administration policies. Johnson was tried and convicted under a Texas law outlawing flag desecration. He was sentenced to one year in jail and assessed a $2,000 fine. After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, the case went to the Supreme Court.Question: Is the desecration of an American flag, by burning or otherwise, a form of speech that is protected under the First Amendment? Conclusion: In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that Johnson's burning of a flag was protected expression under the First Amendment. The Court found that Johnson's actions fell into the category of expressive conduct and had a distinctively political nature. The fact that an audience takes offense to certain ideas or expression, the Court found, does not justify prohibitions of speech. The Court also held that state officials did not have the authority to designate symbols to be used to communicate only limited sets of messages, noting that "[i]f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable." US v O’Brien: Facts of the Case : David O'Brien burned his draft card at a Boston courthouse. He said he was expressing his opposition to war. He was convicted under a federal law that made the destruction or mutilation of drafts card a crime. Question : Was the law an unconstitutional infringement of O'Brien's freedom of speech? Conclusion : No. The 7-to-1 majority, speaking through Chief Justice Earl Warren, established a test to determine whether governmental regulation involving symbolic speech was justified. The formula examines whether the regulation is unrelated to content and narrowly tailored to achieve the government's interest. "[W]e think it clear," wrote Warren," that a government regulation is sufficiently justified if it is within the constitutional power of the Government; if it furthers an important or substantial governmental interest; if the governmental interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and if the incidential restriction on alleged First Amendment freedoms is not greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest." John Peter Zenger: 1734 case involving John Peter Zenger sowed the seed for the later establishment of truth as an absolute defense against libel charges. The outcome of the case is one of jury nullification , and not a case where the defense acquitted itself as a matter of law. -
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Study Guide - POSC 130 Final Study Guide Transformation of...

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