Feiner (defendant) was convicted of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor under the penal laws of the State of New York (plaintiff). Feiner was arrested after making a speech to a crowd of both Caucasian and African American people that included derogatory remarks about President Truman and several local political officials. The intended effect of Feiner’s speech was to incite African Americans to rise up against Caucasians and Feiner advocated that African Americans take up arms and fight for equal rights. Police officers unsuccessfully asked Feiner to stop talking three times before finally arresting him. Feiner challenged his conviction on the grounds that it violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, but the court of appeals and the New York State Supreme Court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.