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Terminiello v. Chicago

Significance, Impact


Father Arthur Terminiello


City of Chicago

Petitioner's Claim

That the Chicago ordinance against disturbing the peace violated Terminiello's right of free expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Albert W. Dilling

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

L. Louis Karton

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, William O. Douglas (writing for the Court), Frank Murphy, Stanley Forman Reed, Wiley Blount Rutledge

Justices Dissenting

Harold Burton, Felix Frankfurter, Robert H. Jackson, Fred Moore Vinson


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

16 May 1949


Reversed Illinois decision affirming Terminiello's conviction for disturbing the peace on grounds that the trial judge's instructions to the jury defined "breach of peace" too narrowly.

Related Cases

  • Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940).
  • Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942).
  • Kunz v. New York, 340 U.S. 290 (1951).
  • Feiner v. New York, 340 U.S. 315 (1951).

Further Readings

  • Emerson, Thomas I. The System of Freedom of Expression, New York: Random House, 1970.
  • Kalven, Harry, Jr. A Worthy Tradition: Freedom of Speech in America. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.
  • New Republic, May 30, 1949.
  • Newsweek, May 30, 1949.
  • Time, May 30, 1949.
  • Tresolini, Rocco J. These Liberties. New York: Lippincott, 1968.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953