Jump to navigation. Appellant was convicted of violating that part of Cal. The Court of Appeal held that "offensive conduct" means "behavior which has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence or to in turn disturb the peace," and affirmed the conviction. Held: Absent a more particularized and compelling reason for its actions, the State may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display of this single four-letter expletive a criminal offense. This case may seem at first blush too inconsequential to find its way into our books, but the issue it presents is of no small constitutional significance. The facts upon which his conviction rests are detailed in the opinion of the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, as follows:. On April 26, , the defendant was observed in the Los Angeles County Courthouse in the corridor outside of division 20 of the municipal court wearing a jacket bearing the words "Fuck the Draft" which were plainly visible.
Paul Robert Cohen and “his” Famous Free-Speech Case
Cohen v. California | The First Amendment Encyclopedia
The owner of a truck boasting a huge middle finger to the commander-in-chief is breaking the law, a Texas sheriff has alleged. The Republican sheriff serving an area southwest of Houston claimed the profane banner is putting a bad taste in locals' mouths, drawing "numerous calls regarding the offensive display. Sheriff Troy E. Nehls said a prosecutor already told him she could charge the driver with disorderly conduct, which Texas defines as using "abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace. But law enforcement officers trying to prosecute people for dropping the F-bomb against the government have already been struck down by the highest court in the land.
Cohen v. California
Cohen v. California , U. The Court ultimately found that displaying a mere four-letter word was not sufficient justification to allow states to restrict free speech, and that free speech can only be restricted under severe circumstances beyond offensiveness.
Supreme Court strengthened free speech by protecting the right to engage in offensive expression. In its decision, the Court contributed to a greater understanding of many important First Amendment principles, including fighting words, obscenity, captive audience, and viewpoint discrimination. Cohen, represented by famed copyright and free-speech expert Melville B.