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Constitutional Law Keyed to Barnett
Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire
Citation:315 U.S. 568 (1942)
The defendant was distributing materials promoting the teachings of the Jehovah Witnesses. Bystanders complained to the City Marshal that the defendant was denouncing all other religions. The crowd became restless, and city officials became involved. The complaint alleged that the defendant told one of the city officials that they were a “damned Fascist and the whole government of Rochester are Fascists or agents of Fascists.” The defendant alleged slightly different facts, including that he had urged the city officials to arrest the members of the public who were responsible for the disturbance, and in response one of the city officials cursed at the defendant. The defendant was convicted under a New Hampshire law that prohibited citizens from saying an “offensive, derisive, or annoying word” to another person in a public place, or to call another person by “any offensive or derisive name,” or “make any noise in [their] presence . . . with intent to deride, offend, or annoy him . . .”.
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