“…protest of political speech is itself protected speech, but protest cannot be so forceful or dominant that it vetoes the speaker….”
Reason.com by Judge Andrew Napolitano
On Feb. 7, 1946, Arthur Terminiello, a Roman Catholic priest who was a fierce opponent of communism and believed that President Harry Truman was too comfortable with it, gave an incendiary speech in a Chicago hall that his sponsors had rented.
The hall held about 800 people, but nearly 2,400 showed up. Father Terminiello’s opponents outnumbered his supporters by a two-to-one ratio. The atmosphere in the hall was electric, with almost everyone present taking sides for or against this priest, all under the watchful eyes of Chicago police.
The speech delighted the priest’s supporters and enraged his detractors. When it became apparent that violence might break out, the Chicago police approached Terminiello while he was speaking and asked him to stop and leave the building.
He refused to leave and resumed his speech. The police prediction soon came to pass. The fiery priest ignited the hatred of his adversaries, many of whom seemed to have come to that venue to silence him.
The police safely escorted Terminiello out of the hall and then, in the presence of the many rioters who by now had spilled out onto a public street, arrested him for inciting a riot. The charge was defined in Illinois in the mid-1940s so as to criminalize any behavior that intentionally arouses the public to anger or brings about public unrest.
The police did not arrest any of the rioters who smashed windows, destroyed the stage and assaulted the priest. They saw him arrested for his words that they hated.
Terminiello was tried and convicted. After his conviction had been upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court, he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed his conviction. In so doing, the high court saved the First Amendment from authoritarian impulses that sought to narrow its scope, and ushered in the modern judicial understanding that has informed the present-day parameters of the freedom of speech….