Cohen v. California Case Brief

Summary of Cohen v. California

Facts:

To protest the Vietnam war, P wore a jacket into a courthouse with the words “Fuck the draft" on it. He did not threaten anyone nor was anyone who saw the jacket violently aroused. P was charged with disturbing the peace.

Issue:

Are the words “fuck the draft" protected speech?

Holding:

Yes, the words are protected.

Reasoning:

  1. you cant say that you’re just trying to preserve a decorous courtroom because no where in the statute does it say that you can say certain things in one location and not in another
  2. The words can’t be banned as obscene, because they are in no way erotic.
  3. The fact that certain words are offensive doesn’t make them fighting words—to be fighting words they must be directed at a person.

Judgment:

Reversed.



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