Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone
United States v. O’Brien
For the burning, O’Brien was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced. O’Brien stated that he burned the certificate publicly to influence others to adopt his anti-war beliefs. The indictment upon which he was tried charged that he “willfully and knowingly did mutilate, destroy and change by burning his registration certificate in violation of Section:462(b)(3) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act.” This section was amended in 1965 so that at the time O’Brien burned his certificate an offense was committed by any person, “who forges, alters, knowingly destroys, knowingly mutilates or in any manner changes such certificate.” The Court of Appeals held the 1965 Amendment unconstitutional as a law abridging freedom of speech.
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