Wooley v. Maynard

LOCATION:Lake East Hospital

DOCKET NO.: 75-1453
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 430 US 705 (1977)
ARGUED: Nov 29, 1976
DECIDED: Apr 20, 1977

Robert V. Johnson, II – Argued the cause for the appellants
Richard S. Kohn – Argued the cause for the appellees

Facts of the case

A New Hampshire law required all noncommercial vehicles to bear license plates containing the state motto “Live Free or Die.” George Maynard, a Jehovah’s Witness, found the motto to be contrary to his religious and political beliefs and cut the words “or Die” off his plate. Maynard was convicted of violating the state law and was subsequently fined and given a jail sentence.


Did the New Hampshire law unconstitutionally interfere with the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment?

Media for Wooley v. Maynard

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 29, 1976 in Wooley v. Maynard

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 20, 1977 in Wooley v. Maynard

Warren E. Burger:

I have the judgment and opinion of the Court to announce Number 75-1453, Neil Wooley against Maynard and for reasons stated in an opinion filed with the clerk this morning, the judgment of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire is affirmed.

Mr. Justice White, with whom Mr. Justice Blackmun and Mr. Justice Rehnquist joined, filed an opinion dissenting in part and separately, Mr. Justice Rehnquist, with whom Mr. Justice Blackmun joined, filed a dissenting opinion.