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Cohen v. California

403 U.S. 15, 91 S.Ct. 1780 (1971)

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Cohen v. California

United States Supreme Court

403 U.S. 15, 91 S.Ct. 1780 (1971)

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Facts

The Los Angeles Municipal Court convicted Robert Cohen (defendant) for violating the state penal code prohibiting “maliciously and willfully disturbing the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person by offensive conduct.” He was convicted after wearing a jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft.” Women and children were present. Cohen argued that he wore the jacket as a means of expressing the depth of his feelings toward the Vietnam War and the draft. He did not engage in any threatening conduct in conjunction with this speech. Cohen challenged his conviction on First Amendment grounds against the State of California (plaintiff), but the California Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. The Supreme Court of California denied review, but the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harlan, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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