A Minnesota State statute provided for the abatement as a public nuisance of a “malicious, scandalous and defamatory newspaper, magazine or other periodical.” Publishers of such material could also be given a temporary or permanent injunction prohibiting distribution, as well as a fine and imprisonment. In 1927, Jay Near (defendant) began publishing “The Saturday Press” which criticized various racial groups and published racial slurs about several Minnesota public officials. One of these officials, Olson (plaintiff), filed suit in state court on the grounds that Near violated the statute by creating a public nuisance. The state trial court entered judgment for Olson and ordered the cessation of Near’s newspaper. The state supreme court affirmed, and Near appealed to the United States Supreme Court.