Feiner was making derogatory
comments via loudspeaker about President Truman, the American Legion, and
mayor of Syracuse, and others. An unruly crowd gathered, and the police
told Feiner to stop inciting the crowd. When Feiner refused to comply, he
was arrested for inciting a breach of the peace.
Feiner was convicted of
disorderly conduct. He appealed.
Feiner argued that his
conviction was unconstitutional because the 1st Amendment guaranteed free speech.
The US Supreme Court upheld
The US Supreme Court found
that the police silenced Feiner not because of his words, but because of
the reaction of the crowd.
The Court found that Feiner
had a constitutional right to express his opinion, but the 1st
Amendment does not give one the
right to start a riot. When the speech crosses the line into creating a
civil disturbance, the speaker may be silenced.
Those are known as fighting
Basically, this case said that
it is a violation of the 1st Amendment to silence unpopular views, but it is
constitutionally permissible to silence a speaker who is trying to incite