Ashton v. Kentucky

LOCATION: Baconsfield Park

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 384 US 195 (1966)
ARGUED: Apr 28, 1966
DECIDED: May 16, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Ashton v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 28, 1966 in Ashton v. Kentucky

Earl Warren:

Ashton, Petitioner, versus State of Kentucky.

Mr. London.

Ephraim London:

Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices.

Steve Ashton was convicted of criminal libel in Kentucky in 1963, November 1963.

It was a common law crime.

The appeal, the original conviction which was in the Circuit Court Hazard, he appealed it to the highest court of the state, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and that court affirmed the conviction with three of the southern judges dissenting.

The sentence which was imposed by the jury was six months in jail and a fine of $3000.

At the time Ashton was convicted, he was a college student at (Inaudible).

He had come to Hazard, Kentucky as a result of hearing some television scenes and television programs in which the plight of some striking miners were shown.

Hazard, Kentucky and Perry County was the center of a mining area where there had been a prolonged labor dispute.

Some of the miners in that area were on strike and some were not.

Now, Ashton who'd come down as the representative of a student committee, he was bringing food and clothing down for the strikingminers.

And while there, he wrote a report on what was happening, and it was to be sent I believe mostly to his friends and colleagues and perhaps to some others who would be willing to help the miners.

This report which was called “Notes on a Mountain Strike” --

Earl Warren:

Is it written for distribution in the same community or back home?

Ephraim London:

Back home Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

Back home.

Ephraim London:

It was mimeographed and I believe it was to be sent primarily back home.

And I think that the purpose was to secure funds.

I think there is some evidence in the record although it is not clear that this was the purpose of it.

Potter Stewart:

It was distributed though in the community (Voice Overlap) --

Ephraim London:

No, Your Honor, I (Voice Overlap) --

Potter Stewart:

At least to an extent (Voice Overlap) --

Ephraim London:

-- it's our position that it was not distributed at all.

Potter Stewart:

Well, it was -- some policemen got a hold of it, didn't they?

Ephraim London:

Yes, Your Honor.

Some policemen did get hold of it.

What they did with it, we don’t know but we don't believe that (Voice Overlap) --

Potter Stewart:

Then as a secret document, it was available in the community, was it not?

Ephraim London:

It never got to that point.