Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Feiner (Petitioner), was convicted of disorderly conduct for refusing to stop giving a speech on a public sidewalk once the crowd started to get a little rowdy.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When there is clear and present danger of a riot, then the police may restrict speech.
This Court respects, as it must, the interest of the community in maintaining peace and order on its streets.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Was the disruption of the speech to prevent a riot constitutional?
Held. Yes. The conviction should not be reversed because there was great potential for a riot and the Petitioner defied the police request.
Dissent. The facts do not show that a riot was imminent. This is just a convenient way for police to censor unpopular viewpoints.
Discussion. A person does not have the right to free speech when it will result in a riot. The Petitioner intended to incite the public with his words. Therefore, the police had a legitimate interest in maintaining the peace and order of the community that outweighed the Petitioner’s freedom of speech.