RESPONDENT:State of New Jersey
DOCKET NO.: 11
DECIDED BY: Hughes Court (1939-1940)
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.
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?