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Cohen v. California (docket #: 299) (1971)  [Findlaw]

Secondary Link Cohen v. California  [Legal Information Institute]
Argument Date 02/22/1971
Decided 6/7/1971
Supreme Court Vote 5-4
Supreme Court Ruling First Amendment claim sustained.
 
IssueAs Justice Harlan framed it: "[T]he issue flushed by this case stands out in bold relief. It is whether California can excise, as "offensive conduct," one particular scurrilous epithet from the public discourse, either upon the theory . . . that its use is inherently likely to cause violent reaction or upon a more general assertion that the States, acting as guardians of public morality, may properly remove this offensive word from the public vocabulary."
 
Case Summary & Additional Resources
Majority Opinion Harlan, J.
Dissenting Opinion Blackmun, J. (joined by Burger, C.J., Black, J., & White J., in part)
Lower Court California Court of Appeals
Lower Court Ruling First Amendment claim denied
Oral Arguments Oral Arguments  [Oyez]
-- edited transcript in Irons, Peter, editor, MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT: THE FIRST AMENDMENT (1997), pp. 68-78
Lawyers
For Petitioner
Melville B. Nimmer

For Respondent
Michael T. Sauer

For Amicus
Anthony G. Amsterdam, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California

Opinion - Lower Court
People v. Cohen, 81 Cal. Rptr. 503 (Cal. App., 1969)
Other
Balter-Reitz, Susan J., "Cohen v. California," in FREE SPEECH ON TRIAL (2003), Richard A. Parker, ed., pp. 160-171

Bickel, Alexander, THE MORALITY OF CONSENT (1975), p. 72
Bollinger, Lee, THE TOLERANT SOCIETY (1986), pp. 170-172
Cohen, William, "A Look Back at Cohen v. California," 34 UCLA Law Review 1595 (1987)
Cox, Archibald, THE ROLE OF THE SUPREME COURT IN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT (1976), pp. 47-48
Dickson, Del, THE SUPREME COURT IN CONFERENCE (1940-1985): THE PRIVATE DISCUSSIONS BEHIND NEARLY 300 SUPREME COURT DECISIONS (2001), pp. 350-351
Farber, Daniel, "Civilizing Public Discourse: . . . The Enduring Significance of Cohen v. California," 1980 Duke Law Journal 283
Rutzick, M.C., "Offensive Language & the Evolution of First Amendment Protection," 9 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 1 (1974)
Smolla, Rodney, SMOLLA & NIMMER ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH (1994), sect. 3.03[2][b][ii]
Tribe, Laurence, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (2nd. Ed., 1988), pp. 787-788, 851-852, 916-917, 953-954
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