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.
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.