FACTS: Clarence Brandenburg was the leader of an Ohio affiliate of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization dedicated to white supremacy. Brandenburg wanted to obtain publicity for the Klan’s goal, so he reached out to a Cincinnati reporter at a local television station. Brandenburg invited the reporter to cover a Klan rally that would take place on a farm in the summer of 1964. With the assistance of Klansmen organizers, the reporter and a cameraman attended the rally and filmed the event. Portions of the footage was later aired on local and national television, revealing Klan members gathered around a burning cross, in their hoods and robes, and some carrying weapons. At this rally, Brandenburg had given a speech where he made derogatory comments about Blacks and Jews. He also suggested that, “some revengence might be taken against the federal government if the government continued to suppress the white, Caucasian race.”
Based on the footage, Brandenburg was convicted under the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism statute. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to one to ten years in prison. The 1919 made it illegal to advocate “crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform” and of “voluntarily assembling with any society, group or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocated the doctrines of criminal syndicalism.” Essentially, the statute banned the spread of unpatriotic views.
Brandenburg appealed his conviction on the grounds that the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism statute violated the free speech clauses of the First and Fourteenth Amendment. The case originated in the Ohio State Trial court, and then appealed to the Ohio State Supreme Court. Both courts dismissed Brandenburg claims. Brandenburg then petitioned the United States Supreme court on that grounds that. The Supreme Court issued a writ of certiorari to the intermediate appellate,
LEGAL QUESTION(S): Is speech that advocates violence or violation of the law, protected under the First Amendment, as applied to…