Logourl black

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

United States Supreme Court
315 U.S. 568 (1942)


Chaplinsky (defendant) was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Chaplinsky was distributing religious literature on a street corner. Several citizens complained to the City Marshal, Bowering, that Chaplinsky was denouncing all religions. Bowering responded that Chaplinsky was lawfully permitted to voice his opinion, but nevertheless warned Chaplinsky that the crowd was getting restless. After a disturbance occurred later, Chaplinsky was escorted by a police officer to the police station. On the way, Chaplinsky passed Bowering and called him a “racketeer” and a “fascist.” Chaplinsky admitted to uttering the offensive language in question. Chaplinsky was convicted by the State of New Hampshire (plaintiff) for violating a New Hampshire law prohibiting speech directed at a person on public streets that derides, offends or annoys others. Chaplinsky’s conviction was affirmed by the state supreme court, and he appealed to the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that the New Hampshire law violated the First Amendment.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 90,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,195 briefs - keyed to 164 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now