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Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Citation. 315 U.S. 568, 62 S. Ct. 766, 86 L. Ed. 1031, 1942 U.S. 851.

Brief Fact Summary. Chaplinsky was convicted under a State statute for calling a City Marshal a “God damned racketeer” and a “damned fascist” in a public place.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. “Fighting words” are not entitled to protection under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)


Facts. A New Hampshire statute prohibited any person from addressing any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is on any street or public place or calling him by any derisive name. Chaplinsky, a Jehovah’s Witness, called a City Marshal a “God damned racketeer” and a “damned fascist” in a public place and was therefore arrested and convicted under the statute.

Issue. Did the statute or the application of the statute to Chaplinsky’s comments violate his free speech rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution?

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