California in their respective rulings on the case. The conviction quite clearly rests upon the asserted offensiveness of the words Cohen used to convey his message to the public. In affirming the conviction, the Court of Appeal held that "offensive conduct" means "behavior which has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence or to in turn disturb the peace," and that the State had proved this element because, on the facts of this case, [i]t was certainly reasonably foreseeable that such conduct might cause others to rise up to commit a violent act against the person of the defendant or attempt to forcibly remove his jacket.
Oyez article Paul Robert Cohen Court In an opinion by Justice John Marshall Harlan, the Court reasoned that the expletive, while provocative, was not directed toward anyone; besides, there was no evidence that people in substantial numbers would be provoked into some kind of physical action by the words on his jacket.
Decision Direction Quick Info Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case. The Court first considered and was satisfied that it had jurisdiction to hear the case because Cohen had exhausted his appeal route in California.
In its decision, the Court contributed to a greater understanding of many important First Amendment principles, including fighting words, obscenity, captive audience, and viewpoint discrimination.
This Court has also held that the States are free to ban the simple use, without a demonstration of additional justifying circumstances, of so-called "fighting words," those personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction.
California and the Supreme Court of California's denial of review. Edwards v. See Whitney v. Who wrote this essay?