The Vinson Court (1946–53)

First Amendment

CourtSpeak: Beauharnais v. Illinois Group Libel Case (1952)

Justice Hugo Black (dissenting): “Today’s case degrades First Amendment freedoms to the ‘rational basis’ level. It is now a certainty that the new ‘due process’ coverall offers far less protection to liberty than would adherence to our former cases compelling states to abide by the unequivocal First Amendment command that its defined freedoms shall not be abridged.

“The Court’s holding here and the constitutional doctrine behind it leave the rights of assembly, petition, speech and press almost completely at the mercy of state legislative, executive, and judicial agencies.”


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