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Spence v. State of Washington

418 U.S. 405 (1974)

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Spence v. State of Washington

United States Supreme Court

418 U.S. 405 (1974)

Facts

Spence (defendant), a college student, hung his United States flag from the window of his apartment on private property in Seattle, Washington, a few days after the killings at Kent State University in 1970 and when the United States had invaded Cambodia. Spence hung the flag upside down, and attached to the front and back was a peace symbol made of easily removable black tape. Three Seattle police officers saw the flag and entered the apartment building. Spence was not charged under Washington’s flag-desecration statute; rather, he was charged under the improper-use statute for placing a figure, mark, picture, design, drawing, or advertisement on the flag. Spence was convicted, and he appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (Rehnquist, J.)

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