SIMON & SCHUSTER v. NY CRIME VICTIMS BOARD

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
90-1059
Petitioner 
Simon & Schuster
Respondent 
NY Crime Victims Board
Advocates
(on behalf of the Respondent)
(on behalf of the Petitioner)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

To keep criminals from profiting from crimes by selling their stories, New York State's 1977 "Son of Sam" law ordered that proceeds from such deals be turned over to the New York State Crime Victims Board. The Board was to deposit the money into escrow accounts which victims could later claim through civil suits. In 1987 the Board ordered Henry Hill, a former gangster who sold his story to Simon & Schuster, to turn over his payments from a book deal.

Question 

Did the Son of Sam law violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Simon & Schuster, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

Yes. The Court concluded that "New York has singled out speech on a particular subject for a financial burden that it places on no other speech and no other income." This discrimination could only be justified if the state could show "that its regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and is narrowly drawn to achieve that end" (Arkansas Writers' Project, Inc. v. Ragland, 481 U.S. 221, 231 (1987)). The Board failed to explain why victims' compensation had to come from the criminals' storytelling rather than other assets.

Cite this Page
SIMON & SCHUSTER v. NY CRIME VICTIMS BOARD. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_90_1059>.
SIMON & SCHUSTER v. NY CRIME VICTIMS BOARD, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_90_1059 (last visited October 23, 2014).
"SIMON & SCHUSTER v. NY CRIME VICTIMS BOARD," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_90_1059.