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Brown v. Hartlage

Significance, Free Speech Or Buying Votes?, The Right To Be Wrong, Judgment And A Lone Dissenter


Carl Brown


Earl Hartlage

Petitioner's Claim

That the Kentucky Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibited candidates for public office in that state from promising any material benefit to voters if they were elected, was a violation of the First Amendment's protection of free speech.

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr. (writing for the Court), Warren E. Burger, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William H. Rehnquist


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

20 January 1982


That the Kentucky Corrupt Practices Act constituted a limitation of free speech as guaranteed under the First Amendment.

Related Cases

  • Sparks v. Boggs, 339 S.W.2d. 480 (1960).
  • Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214 (1966).

Further Readings

  • Murphy, Walter F. et al., American Constitutional Interpretation, 2nd ed. Westbury, NY: Foundation Press, 1995.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988