Hess v. Indiana

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Hess v. Indiana
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Decided November 19, 1973
Full case nameGregory Hess v. State of Indiana
Docket no.73-5290
Citations414 U.S. 105 (more)
94 S. Ct. 326; 38 L. Ed. 2d 303; 1973 U.S. LEXIS 177
Case history
PriorHess v. State, 260 Ind. 427, 297 N.E.2d 413 (1973)
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William O. Douglas · William J. Brennan Jr.
Potter Stewart · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell Jr. · William Rehnquist
Case opinions
Per curiam
DissentRehnquist, joined by Burger, Blackmun
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I

Hess v. Indiana, 414 U.S. 105 (1973), was a United States Supreme Court case[1] involving the First Amendment that reaffirmed and clarified the imminent lawless action test first articulated in Brandenburg v. Ohio. Hess is still cited by courts to protect speech threatening future lawless action.[2]


The case involved an antiwar protest on the campus of Indiana University Bloomington. Between 100 and 150 protesters were in the streets. The sheriff and his deputies then proceeded to clear the streets of the protestors. As the sheriff was passing Gregory Hess, one of the members of the crowd, Hess uttered, "We'll take the fucking street later" or "We'll take the fucking street again." Hess was convicted in Indiana state court of disorderly conduct.


The Supreme Court reversed Hess's conviction because the statement, at worst, "amounted to nothing more than advocacy of illegal action at some indefinite future time. This is not sufficient to permit the State to punish Hess' speech."[3]


  1. ^ Hess v. Indiana, 414 U.S. 105 (1973).
  2. ^ "Fighting words: Hess v. Indiana tested limits of free speech during wartime". IU News Room, Indiana University. November 17, 2004. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Hess, 414 U.S. at 108.

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