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Terminiello v. Chicago


The passage of Douglas's opinion quoted above became the key to opinions upholding First Amendment rights in public assembly cases for years to come. While Terminiello signaled a major victory for free speech, the victory was not complete. Douglas made clear that there was a point--namely, where it creates a clear and present danger--at which it was acceptable to restrict speech. Laws such as Chicago's could be reasonably applied. It was the way in which it was used against Terminiello that represented a violation of his rights. The Court held that the trial judge's definition of a "breach of peace" was too narrow, not that a valid definition was impossible.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953Terminiello v. Chicago - Significance, Impact