Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Chaplinsky (Petitioner), was arrested for yelling offensive words to a city official while on the street.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. “Fighting words” are an unprotected form of speech.
Derisive and annoying words can be taken as coming within the purview of the statute only when they have this characteristic of plainly tending to excite the addressee to a breach of the peace.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does this law infringe upon Petitioner’s First Amendment constitutional rights?
Held. No. The statute bars words that are likely to cause a breach of the peace. This was narrowly drawn to punish specific conduct within the state power to control.
Discussion. Fighting words include any situation likely to cause a violent response against the speaker and where the insult is likely to inflict immediate emotional harm.