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Brandenburg v. Ohio

United States Supreme Court
395 U.S. 444 (1969)


Facts

Brandenburg (defendant) was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan in the State of Ohio (plaintiff). Brandenburg was convicted under the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act (OCSA) for “advocating the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform,” and for “voluntarily assembling with any society, group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism.” He was arrested after inviting a news reporter to attend a Ku Klux Klan rally. The reporter filmed Brandenburg in Klan regalia, burning a cross and uttering speech that was derogatory to African Americans and Jews. Brandenburg was convicted in Ohio state court, and was fined and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. He challenged his conviction on the grounds that the OCSA violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence (Douglas, J.)

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Concurrence (Black, J.)

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