Chaplinsky v. NH Case Brief

Summary of Chaplinsky v. NH (1942)

1st Amendment is NOT ABSOLUTE. Is constitutional to prevent or punish “well-defined, narrowly limited classes of speech."

a. e.g. Not protected: “the profane," “libelous speech," “insulting or fighting words," “Lewd and obscene"

b. Rationale: Not an essential part of the exposition of ideas. That speech has such slight social value as a step to the truth that the benefit is clearly outweighed by social interest in order and morality.

c. Post-1942: See a shift in definitions. Also a challenge to whether the 1st A is only about the free marketplace of ideas



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