Edwards v. South Carolina Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Black high school and college students walked in separate groups of about 15 to the South Carolina state house grounds, an area of two city blocks open to the general public. Their purpose was to submit a protest of grievances to the citizens of South Carolina, and to the legislative bodies of South Carolina. During the course of the peaceful demonstration the police arrested the students after they did not obey an order to disperse. The students were convicted of breach of the peace. After their convictions were affirmed by the state supreme court, the students filed a petition for certiorari review. They contended that there was a complete absence of any evidence of the commission of the offense and that they were thus denied one of the most basic elements of due process of law.




“The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment allows the Free Petition Clause to extend to the states as well as the federal government.In an 8-1 decision authored by Justice Potter Stewart, the Court reversed the criminal convictions of the black students. It was clear to the Court that in arresting, convicting, and punishing the students under the circumstances disclosed by the record, the state infringed the students’ constitutionally protected rights of free speech, free assembly, and freedom to petition for redress of their grievances.Justice Clark dissented.”

Case Information

Citation: 372 US 229 (1963)
Argued: Dec 13, 1962
Decided: Feb 25, 1963
Case Brief: 1963