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Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952)  [Findlaw]

Argument Date 11/28/1951
Decided 4/28/1952
Supreme Court Vote 5-4
Note In Collin v. Smith, 578 F.2d 1197, 1205 (1978), a panel of judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit expressed "doubt" about whether "Beauharnais remains good law after the constitutional libel cases."
 
IssueWhether the distribution of a racist leaflet, in violation of a state criminal libel statute, was protected under the First Amendment.
 
Case Summary & Additional Resources
Majority Opinion Frankfurter, J.
Dissenting Opinion Black, J. (joined by Douglas, J.), & Reed, J. (joined by Douglas, J.), & Dougals, J., & Jackson, J.
Lower Court Illinois Supreme Court
Lower Court Ruling First Amendment claim denied
Lawyers
For Petitioner
Alfred A. Albert

For Respondent
William C. Wines, Assistant Attorney General of Illinois

News Stories & Commentary
McMasters, Paul, "Must a civil society be a censored society?"

"Court Dissolves League; White Circle Organization Held Defamatory to Negroes," New York Times, June 30, 1950, p. 19
"Deriding Race, Creed Is Illegal," Washington Post, April 29, 1952, p. 7
"Negroe's Defamer Loses; Illinois Supreme Court Upholds 'White Circle' Conviction," New York Times, January 19, 1951, p. 25
"Racial Libel Test Sought; Civil Liberties Union Calls for Supreme Court Review," New York Times, July 13, 1951, p. 23
Editorial, "Contracted Freedom," Washington Post, May 1, 1952, p. 14
Huston, Luther A., "Illinois' Right to 'Group Libel' Law Upheld by High Court in Race Case," New York Times, April 29, 1952, p. 23
Other
Arkes, Hadley, "Civility & the Restriction of Speech: Rediscovering the Defamation of Groups," 1974 Supreme Court Review 281
Barron, Jerome & Dienes, C. Thomas, FIRST AMENDMENT LAW IN A NUTSHELL (3rd ed., 2004), pp. 204-208
Bernstein, David, YOU CAN'T SAY THAT (2003)

Delgado, Richard & Stefancic, "Hateful Speech, Loving Communities," 82 California Law Review 851 (1994)
Delgado, Richard, "Words that Wound: A Tort Action for Racial Insults, Epithets, and Name-Calling," 17 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 133 (1982)
Freedman, Monroe & Freedman, Eric, editors, GROUP DEFAMATION & FREE SPEECH: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LANGUAGE & VIOLENCE (1995)
Greenawalt, Kent, "Insults & Epithets: Are They Protected Speech?," 42 Rutgers Law Review 287 (1990)
Hentoff, Nat, FREE SPEECH FOR ME -- BUT NOT FOR THEE (1992)
Lawrence, Charles, "If He Hollers, Let Him Go: Regulating Racist Speech on Campus," 1990 Duke Law Journal 431
Lederer, Laura & Delgado, Richard, THE PRICE WE PAY: THE CASE AGAINST RACIST SPEECH, HATE PROPOGANDA & PORNOGRAPHY (1994)
Matduda, Mari, editor, WORDS THAT WOUND (1993)
Matsuda, Mari, "Public Response to Racist Speech: Considering the Victim's Story," 87 Michigan Law Review 2320 (1989)
Post, Robert, "Racist Speech, Democracy, and the First Amendment," 32 William & Mary Law Review 267 (1991)
Reisman, David, "Democracy & Defamation: Control of Group Libel," 42 Columbia Law Review 727 (1942)
Schaffer Library, "A Generation of Hate: Bias Crimes and Hate Speech Issues, 1977-2003"

Shiell, Timothy, CAMPUS HATE SPEECH ON TRIAL (1998), pp. 42-44, 60, 83
Smolla, Rodney, SMOLLA & NIMMER ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH (1994), section 6
Tribe, Laurence, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (2nd ed., 1988), pp. 926-927
Weinstein, James, HATE SPEECH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE RADICAL ATTACK ON FREE SPEECH DOCTRINE (1999)
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