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Case Briefs- Civil and Constitutional Law Part 2

New hampshire freedom of expression fighting words

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Unformatted text preview: edom of Expression, Obscenity, content) • • • Cohen showed up at court wearing a jacket with dirty words printed on it. He was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. o Cohen was quietly protesting the Vietnam War. He didn't say anything out loud, make a ruckus, or threaten anybody. o The California law prohibited "maliciously and willfully disturbing the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person by offensive conduct." Cohen was convicted of disturbing the peace and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He appealed. st o Cohen argued that the California law was an unconstitutional violation of his 1 Amendment right to free speech. The US Supreme Court overturned the conviction and found the California law unconstitutional. st o The US Supreme Court found that it was a violation of the 1 Amendment to make the public display of a single four- letter expletive a criminal offense, without a more specific and compelling reason than a general tendency to disturb the peace. Basically, this is the same test used for all laws that infringe on constitutional rights. Namely, is there a compelling government interest strong enough to justify the infringement? Basically, this case said that profane and indecent language is protected by the 1st Amendment, and people are free to swear as much as they want. o At least in certain mediums. This right does not extend to swearing on television. See Federal Communications Commn. v. Pacifica Foundation (438 U.S. 726 (1978)). • Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn (Freedom of press) Brief Fact Summary. In August 1971, the Appellee, Cohn’s (Appellee), 17- year- old daughter was the victim of a rape and did...
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