Schneider v. State of New Jersey

PETITIONER: Clara Schneider
RESPONDENT: State of New Jersey
LOCATION:

DOCKET NO.: 11
DECIDED BY: Hughes Court (1939-1940)
LOWER COURT:

ARGUED: Oct 13, 1939
DECIDED: Nov 22, 1939

Facts of the case

Municipal codes in four cities across the United States--Milwaukee, WI, Los Angeles, CA, Worchester, MA, and Irvington, NJ--banned hand-to-hand distribution of pamphlets in public places and private residences. Defendants convicted of violating these ordinances in each city argued that the ordinances were invalidated by the fundamental constitutional protection of free speech. The cities argued that the bans upheld their municipal prerogative to keep streets clean and reduce littering. Upon appeal in each case, the Supreme Court consolidated the four.

Question

Do the interests of cities in reducing littering justify encroachments upon the First Amendment by banning the hand-to-hand distribution of pamphlets in public places and private residences?