Brief Fact Summary. A conviction for disorderly conduct was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) where a man was addressing a crowd of approximately eighty people and encouraging them to “rise up in arms.”
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When, as here, the speaker passes ordinary bounds of argument or persuasion and undertakes to incite a riot, the police may peacefully prevent a breach of peace.
Issue. Whether Petitioner’s speech was protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?
Held. No. Judgment of the lower courts affirmed. Petitioner was neither arrested nor convicted for the making or content of his speech. Rather, it was the reaction which it actually engendered. The Court respects the interest of the community in preserving the peace and order in its streets. The preservation of that interest here does not encroach on Petitioner’s constitutional rights. Here, the speaker passed ordinary bounds of argument or persuasion and undertook to incite a riot, therefore, the police were authorized to peacefully prevent a breach of peace.
Dissent. Petitioner was lawfully making street-corner speech and should not have been convicted.
Discussion. Here, there was a perceived threat of danger and violence resulting from Petitioner’s speech. Therefore, it was not protected.