Notable Items:

Considered a Heckler's Veto case.

General verdict compels the court to set aside the verdict if any part of the statute or its construction violates the Constitution.
That construction of the ordinance [in the instruction to the jury See Procedural History] is a ruling on a question of state law that is as binding on us as though the precise words had been written into the ordinance. See Hebert v. Louisiana, 272 U. S. 312, 272 U. S. 317; Winters v. New York, 333 U. S. 507, 333 U. S. 514.
Petitioner did not take exception to that instruction.

Frankfurter Dissent: For the first time in the course of the 130 years in which State prosecutions have come here for review, this Court is today reversing a sentence imposed by a State court on a ground that was urged neither here nor below and that was explicitly disclaimed on behalf of the petitioner at the bar of this Court.

Jackson Dissent: Hence, many speeches, such as that of Terminiello, may be legally permissible, but may nevertheless, in some surroundings, be a menace to peace and order. When conditions show the speaker that this is the case, as it did here, there certainly comes a point beyond which he cannot indulge in provocations to violence without being answerable to society. When the right of society to freedom from probable violence should prevail over the right of an individual to defy opposing opinion presents a problem that always tests wisdom, and often calls for immediate and vigorous action to preserve public order and safety.
Jackson Dissent: The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact. See The First Amendment Encyclopedia entry and The National Constitution Center entry.

Compare this case to Feiner v. New York (1951).

Petitioner: Father Arthur Terminiello
Respondent: City of Chicago
Venue: Supreme Court of the United States
Opinion of the Court: Terminiello v. Chicago (1949)

Issue(s) Before the Court:

[whether] the ordinance [as construed by the trial court and applied to petitioner] violates the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Petitioner's Claim(s):

Petitioner raised both points --
that his speech was protected by the Constitution;
that the inclusion of his speech within the ordinance was a violation of the Constitution.

Respondent's Claim(s):

... that the only conduct punishable and punished under the ordinance was conduct constituting "fighting words," ....

Holding(s) and Disposition:

Held: As construed by the trial court and applied to petitioner, the ordinance violates the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.
... since the verdict was a general one, and it cannot be said that petitioner's conviction was not based upon the instruction [See Procedural History] quoted above. Stromberg v. California (1931) , 283 U. S. 359. Pp. 337 U. S. 5-6. [emphasis added]
Disposition: Reversed

Material Facts:

Procedural History:


Douglas Majority Opinion

Vinson Dissent (??)

Frankfurter Dissent (Jackson, Burton)

Jackson Dissent (Burton)

Douglas Majority Full Argument