Chaplinski was on a street
corner yelling at people and calling them sinners and fascists.
Eventually a mob formed and started a riot.
Chaplinski was arrested and
charged with breach of the peace under a New Hampshire law that made it
illegal to call people names.
Chaplinski was convicted of
breach of the peace. He appealed.
Chaplinski argued that the
New Hampshire law was unconstitutional since it infringed on his 1st
Amendment right to free speech.
The US Supreme Court upheld
The US Supreme Court found
that Chaplinski's statements were fighting words (words designed to incite violence against the
The Court found that freedom
of speech is not absolute, and that
certain forms of speech (like fighting words, commercial advertising, or obscenities) do not convey ideas and are therefore not
covered by the 1st Amendment.
This is known as the two-tier
theory because it divides speech into
two tiers of constitutional protection.