Citation. 402 U.S. 611, 91 S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed.2d 214 (1971).
Defendant challenged his conviction under an Ohio ordinance, arguing the statute violated the First and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.
Laws bearing on the First Amendment are unconstitutional if they are overly vague.
Defendant was convicted of violating an Ohio ordinance which made it a criminal offense for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing by. He challenged his conviction, arguing the statute was unconstitutional under the First and 14th Amendments.
Whether a Cincinnati ordinance making it a criminal offense for three or more people to assemble on a public sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner annoying to passing individuals is unconstitutional.
Yes. A Cincinnati ordinance making it a criminal offense for three or more people to assemble on a public sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner annoying to passing individuals is unconstitutional.
Any man of average comprehension should know that some kinds of conduct will annoy others. This case can be dealt with like any other ordinary criminal statute. The fact that the ordinance may confer wide discretion in a wide range of circumstances is irrelevant.
There are not enough facts in the record. The case should go back to the lower court. This would give both parties an opportunity to supplement the record so that we may be able to determine whether the conduct actually punished is the kind of conduct within the state’s power to punish.
The ordinance is unconstitutional because it is vague. It subjects the exercise of the right of assembly to an unascertainable standard. It is also too broad because it authorizes the punishment of constitutionally protected conduct. Conduct that annoys some people does not annoy others. Applied here, men of common intelligence must guess at its meaning. Judgement reversed.