Gregory v. Chicago

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Gregory v. Chicago
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued December 10, 1968
Decided March 10, 1969
Full case name Dick Gregory, et al. v. City of Chicago
Citations 394 U.S. 111 (more)
89 S. Ct. 946; 22 L. Ed. 2d 134; 1969 U.S. LEXIS 2295
Prior history Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Illinois
Holding
The Court overturned the disorderly conduct charges against Dick Gregory and others for peaceful demonstrations in Chicago.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Warren, joined by unanimous
Concurrence Black, joined by Douglas
Concurrence Harlan
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. I, XIV

Gregory v. Chicago, 394 U.S. 111 (1969), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court overturned the disorderly conduct charges against Dick Gregory and others for peaceful demonstrations in Chicago.

Background[edit]

Social activists, including comedian Dick Gregory, protested against school segregation in Chicago, Illinois in 1966. Twelve years earlier, in Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional. The marchers marched from Chicago's city hall to the mayor's residence. After concluding the march, bystanders began to act unruly, and police asked the protesters to disperse. The protesters did not disperse and were consequently arrested and convicted for demonstrating. The protesters appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court (39 Ill. 2d 47, 233 N. E. 2d 422 (1968)) but that court upheld their conviction. Aided by the ACLU, the protesters appealed to the US Supreme Court.

Opinion of the Court[edit]

The US Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, overturned the conviction for several reasons:

  • "Petitioners were denied due process since there was no evidentiary support for their convictions"
  • "The convictions were for demonstrating, not for refusing to obey police orders."
  • "The trial judge's charge allowed the jury to convict for acts protected by the First Amendment. Stromberg v. California"

Justice Hugo Black, in a concurring opinion, argued that arresting demonstrators as a consequence of unruly behavior of bystanders would amount to a "heckler's veto."[1]

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