452CantwellvConnecticut - impede traffic, or draw a crowd,...

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Cantwell v. Connecticut 310 U.S. 296 (1940) Facts: The defendant was charged with inciting a breach of the peace for trying to solicit contributions on a public Connecticut street by playing a phonograph. The Jehovah’s Witness played the phonograph, which played a record that attacked the Roman Catholic religion, to other pedestrians on the street. Issue: Does the conviction of the defendant violate his right to peacefully impart his view on others? In other words, does the conviction violate the defendant’s First Amendment rights? Holding: Justice Roberts hold that the charges violate the defendant’s First Amendment rights. Rationale: Roberts argues that the defendant did not intend to affront the hearers of the record because there is “no showing that his deportment was noisy, truculent, overbearing or offensive.” As the noise of the phonograph was not so loud as to disturb the peace,
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Unformatted text preview: impede traffic, or draw a crowd, the rights of the hearers were not invaded. Roberts maintains that although the religious content of the record would be found offensive by believers of the Catholic faith, the defendants conduct amounts to an attempt to interest the pedestrians in his propaganda and not to cause them harm. Roberts argues that the conduct of the defendant does not amount to a breach of the peace because the defendant did not make profane, indecent, or abusive remarks directed to the person of the hearer. Roberts finds that although the hearers of the record were angry with its content, the defendant did not act aggressively towards them and there was no clear and present danger in Cantwell himself. According to Roberts, a State may not unduly suppress free communication of views, religious or other, under the guise of conserving desirable conditions....
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