Supreme Court Briefs - Civil Liberties
The First Amendment gives United States citizens five distinct rights. One of which gives citizens the freedom of assembly. This right gives the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend the common interest. There has been many Supreme Court cases that have defined this freedom for every citizen and the United States government.
Edwards v. State of South Carolina
The court case, Edwards v. South Carolina, started oral arguments in December 1962. The case dealt with plaintiffs first amendment right, freedom of assembly. 187 peaceful protesters assembled in front of Zion Baptist ...view middle of the document...
Where the marchers freedom of assembly violated when they were arrested and convicted of breach of the peace?
In court Edwards argued the, peaceful, orderly protest was protected by every citizens first amendment right. He also argued, local police should not be able to decide what peaceful protest are permitted. Edwards felt that if local officials had this full power, the first amendment would only protect freedom of speech which which the local level allowed and there would be no protest of any kind. He finally stated that the convictions of all 187 should be overturned.
South Carolina argued that each state has the right to regulate protest to protect the publics safety. The protest was becoming disorderly and the onlookers were becoming unsettled and angry. Because of this, the police lawfully asked the marchers to disperse; if the police had not acted violence from the surrounding crowd would have occurred. Finally, the convictions should be upheld because the orders given to the marchers by the officers were lawful.
In an 8-1 decision the court overturned the convictions given by the prosecutors and upheld the right for citizens to demonstrate on public property. Justice Potter Stewart wrote the majority opinion. In it he made note that the protest had been peaceful and law-abiding. The law they were convicted upon had no distinct or clear definition, because of this it was used when the protestors expressed unpopular views. The evidence given did not support the claim that that the crowd had grown uneasy and could potently become violent.
As the only decanter Tom C. Clack wrote the decent. In it he stated the local law enforcement acted in a just manor. If there had only been a small group of protestors the police would not have acted. But, because of the size of the actual situation the police acted lawfully. If they hadn't violence could have broken out and a riot could have occurred. He finally stated that in arresting the marchers the police were protecting them from the surrounding crowd.
Dirk De Jonge v. State of Oregon
The court case, DeJonge v. Oregon, began oral arguments on December 9, 1936 and was decided upon on January 4, 1937. On July 27, 1934 around three hundred people assembled for a meeting presented by the Communist Party of Portland, Oregon. The main speaker was Dirk DeJonge, his intent was to rally supporters and gain members in the communist party. He also spoke out against police raids on party headquarters and police shootings of strikers. The police raided the meeting, taking party material and arresting Dirk DeJonge with three other communist meeting organizers. Dejong was charged with violating Oregon’s criminal syndicalism statue.
This staute stated, "the doctrine which advocates crime, physical violence, sabotage or any unlawful acts or methods as a means of accomplishing or effecting industrial or political change or revolution.”...