Beauharnais v. Illinois

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Beauharnais v. Illinois
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued November 28, 1951
Decided April 28, 1952
Full case nameBeauharnais v. Illinois
Citations343 U.S. 250 (more)
72 S. Ct. 725; 96 L. Ed. 919; 1952 U.S. LEXIS 2799
Case history
PriorCert. to the S.Ct. of IL. The Supreme Court of Illinois sustained petitioner's conviction of a violation of Ill. Rev. Stat., 1949, c. 38 § 471, over his objection that the statute was invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment. 408 Ill. 512, 97 N.E.2d 343; cert. granted, 342 U.S. 809.
Holding
An Illinois law making it illegal to publish or exhibit any writing or picture portraying the "depravity, criminality, unchastity, or lack of virtue of a class of citizens of any race, color, creed or religion" was constitutional.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Fred M. Vinson
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed
Felix Frankfurter · William O. Douglas
Robert H. Jackson · Harold H. Burton
Tom C. Clark · Sherman Minton
Case opinions
MajorityFrankfurter, joined by Vinson, Burton, Clark, Minton
DissentBlack, joined by Douglas
DissentReed, joined by Douglas
DissentDouglas
DissentJackson
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. I, XIV

Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U.S. 250 (1952), was a case that came before the United States Supreme Court in 1952. It upheld an Illinois law making it illegal to publish or exhibit any writing or picture portraying the "depravity, criminality, unchastity, or lack of virtue of a class of citizens of any race, color, creed or religion". It is most known for giving a legal basis to some degree that forms of hate speech that may be deemed to breach US libel law are not protected by the First Amendment.

The defendant in Beauharnais distributed a leaflet "setting forth a petition calling on the Mayor and City Council of Chicago 'to halt the further encroachment, harassment and invasion of white people, their property, neighborhoods and persons, by the Negro.'" His criminal conviction by the trial court was sustained by the Illinois Supreme Court, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court after it rejected a Fourteenth Amendment due process challenge.

In his opinion, Justice Frankfurter argued that the speech conducted by the defendant had breached libel and so was reasoned to be outside the protection of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In his dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Black quoted Pyrrhus of Epirus by alluding to the term "Pyrrhic victory":

If minority groups hail this holding as their victory, they might consider the possible relevancy of this ancient remark: "Another such victory and I am undone".

— Hugo Black[1]

Subsequent history[edit]

Although Beauharnais has not been overturned, subsequent Supreme Court decisions such as New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) and R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992) have adopted a more speech-protective position.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 250 (U.S. 1952).
  2. ^ Schwartz, Bernard (1996). The Warren Court: A Retrospective. Oxford University Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-19-510439-0.

External links[edit]