1st Amendment cases

Timeline created by stephenspangler
  • Schenk vs United States

    Foundations of Free Expression: Historic Cases
    Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 39 S.Ct. 247, 63 L.Ed.2d. (1919)
    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in this case his famous aphorism about "falsely shouting fire in a theatre" and set forth a "clear and present danger test" to judge whether speech is protected by the First Amendment. "The question," he wrote, "is whether the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will
  • Evans v. Selma Union High School District of Fresno County, 222 P. 801 (Ca. 1924)

    The California State Supreme Court held that the King James version of the Bible was not a "publication of a sectarian, partisan, or denominational character" that a State statute required a public high school library to exclude from its collections. The "fact that the King James version is commonly used by Protestant Churches and not by Catholics" does not "make its character sectarian," the court stated. "The mere act of purchasing a book to be added to the school library does not carry with
  • Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

    Since Anita Whitney did not base her defense on the First Amendment, the Supreme Court, by a 7 to 2 decision, upheld her conviction of being found guilty under the California’s 1919 Criminal Syndicalism Act for allegedly helping to establish the Communist Labor Party, a group the state argued taught the violent overthrow of government.
  • Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 51 S.Ct. 625, 75 L.Ed.1357 (1931)

    In this case, the Supreme Court interpreted the First and Fourteenth Amendments to forbid "previous restraints" upon publication of a newspaper. "Previous restraints"--or in current terminology, "prior restraints--suppress the freedom of the press to publish without obstruction, and recognize that lawsuits or prosecutions for libel are "subsequent punishments." The Court invalidated as an infringement of constitutional guarantees a Minnesota statue allowing specified government officials or pri
  • Branderburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 89 S.Ct. 1827, 23 L.ed.2d. 430 (1969)

    The Supreme Court established the modern version of the "clear and present danger" doctrine, holding that states only could restrict speech that "is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action, and is likely to incite or produce such action."
  • Rosenberg v. Board of Education of City of New York, 92 N.Y.S.2d 344 (Sup. Ct. Kings County 1949)

    After considering the charge that Oliver Twist and the Merchant of Venice are "objectionable because they tend to engender hatred of the Jew as a person and as a race," the Supreme Court, Kings County, New York, decided that these two works cannot be banned from the New York City schools, libraries, or classrooms, declaring that the Board of Education "acted in good faith without malice or prejudice and in the best interests of the school system entrusted to their care and control, and, therefor
  • Todd v. Rochester Community Schools, 200 N.W.2d 90 (Mich. Ct. App. 1972)

    In deciding that Slaughterhouse-Five could not be banned from the libraries and classrooms of the Michigan schools, the Court of Appeals of Michigan declared: "Vonnegut's literary dwellings on war, religion, death, Christ, God, government, politics, and any other subject should be as welcome in the public schools of this state as those of Machiavelli, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Melville, Lenin, Joseph McCarthy, or Walt Disney. The students of Michigan are free to make of Slaughterhouse-Five what they
  • Minarcini v. Strongsville (Ohio) City School District, 541 F.2d 577 (6th Cir. 1976)

    The Strongsville City Board of Education rejected faculty recommendations to purchase Joseph Heller's Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and ordered the removal of Catch-22 and Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle from the library. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against the School Board, upholding the students' First Amendment right to receive information and the librarian's right to disseminate it. "The removal of books from a school library is a much more serio
  • Right to Read Defense Committee v. School Committee of the City of Chelsea, 454 F. Supp. 703 (D. Mass. 1978)

    The Chelsea, Mass. School Committee decided to bar from the high school library a poetry anthology, Male and Female under 18, because of the inclusion of an "offensive" and "damaging" poem, "The City to a Young Girl," written by a fifteen-year-old girl. Challenged in U.S. District Court, Joseph L. Tauro ruled: "The library is 'a mighty resource in the marketplace of ideas.' There a student can literally explore the unknown, and discover areas of interest and thought not covered by the prescribed
  • Salvail v. Nashua Board of Education, 469 F. Supp. 1269 (D. N.H. 1979)

    MS magazine was removed from a New Hampshire high school library by order of the Nashua School Board. The U.S. District Court decided for the student, teacher, and adult residents who had brought action against the school board, the court concluding: "The court finds and rules that the defendants herein have failed to demonstrate a substantial and legitimate government interest sufficient to warrant the removal of MS magazine from the Nashua High School library. Their action contravenes the plai
  • Loewen v. Turnipseed, 488 F. Supp. 1138 (N.D. Miss. 1980)

    When the Mississippi Textbook Purchasing Board refused to approve Mississippi: Conflict and Change for use in Mississippi public schools, on the grounds that it was too concerned with racial matters and too controversial, the authors filed suit. U.S. District Judge Orma R. Smith ruled that the criteria used were not justifiable grounds for rejecting the book. He held that the controversial racial matter was a factor leading to its rejection, and thus the authors had been denied their constitutio
  • Kreimer v. Bureau of Police for Morristown, 958 F.2d 1242 (3d Cir. 1992)

    In detailed analysis, the court of appeals held that a municipal public library was a limited public forum, meaning open to the public for the specified purposes of exercising their First Amendment rights to read and receive information from library materials. Such exercise could not interfere with or disrupt the library's reasonable rules of operation. The court then upheld three library rules which: 1) required patrons to read, study, or otherwise use library materials while there; 2) prohibit