SCHNEIDER v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
11
Petitioner 
Clara Schneider
Respondent 
State of New Jersey
Consolidation 
No. 13, Young v. People of the State of California
No. 18, Snyder v. City of Milwaukee
No. 29, Nichols et al. v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Advocates
(argued the cause for the petitioner in No. 11)
(argued the cause for the respondent in No. 11)
(argued the cause for the appellant in No. 13)
(argued the cause for the petitioner in No. 18 and for the appellants in No. 29)
(argued the cause for the respondent in No. 18)
(argued the cause for the appellee in No. 29)
Term:
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?

Conclusion 

No. Justice Owen J. Roberts delivered the opinion of a unanimous court. The First Amendment right to free speech was fundamental and substantially impaired by the bans against distributing pamphlets. The burden on cities of upholding First Amendment free speech outweighed the burdens of cleaning up litter caused by hand-to-hand pamphleteering. The cities could regulate dishonest pamphleteering and legislate in order to keep streets freely accessible, but could not outlaw one citizen's attempt to impart information to another citizen through the means of passing out written documents.

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SCHNEIDER v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1939/1939_11>.
SCHNEIDER v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1939/1939_11 (last visited October 23, 2014).
"SCHNEIDER v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1939/1939_11.