Meyer v Nebraska: free speech and liberty grow

Until the 1900s, it was rare or never that the Supreme Court or lower courts ruled on the constitutionality of matters implicating free speech.

After World War I, there was anti-German sentiment, and in 1919, Nebraska passed a law forbidding teaching German in school.  Robert Meyer was reading the Bible in German in school and was charged.  The Nebraska court ruled 4 to 2 that the law was good.

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Cohen v California: F*ck the draft

Cohen wore a jacket to the courthouse in California which said Fuck the Draft.  This was during the Vietnam war and many people were passionate for and against the war, for and against the draft.  Moreover, at the time, the word “Fuck” was used more rarely and a person using the word itself might make some people mad.

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obscenity constitutional law has dramatic evolved

The understanding of the relationship between the constitution and what is considered obscene has evolved greatly over time.  A number of early decisions have been reversed or overturned.

In 1966, in the case of Memoirs v Massachusettes, the US Supreme Court was not united even within a majority of its members as to the correct criteria for saying something was legally subject to prosecution for being obscene.  No opinion of the court in that case was regarded as persuasive, dispositive and a good general rule by a majority.  The photo found at the page to which this links shows us the divisions of the Supreme Court on the issue.

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