Smith v. Goguen - Wikipedia
This article does not cite any sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
Find sources: "Smith v. Goguen" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Smith v. Goguen|
|Argued November 12–13, 1973|
Decided March 25, 1974
|Full case name||Smith v. Goguen|
|Citations||415 U.S. 566 (more)|
94 S. Ct. 1242; 39 L. Ed. 2d 605; 1974 U.S. LEXIS 113
|Prior||Appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit|
|Flag desecration laws that prohibit "contemptuous" treatment of the flag are overly broad.|
|Majority||Powell, joined by Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, Marshall|
|Dissent||Blackmun, joined by Burger|
|Dissent||Rehnquist, joined by Burger|
|U.S. Const. amends. I, XIV|
Smith v. Goguen, 415 U.S. 566 (1974), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that flag desecration laws that prohibit "contemptuous" treatment of the flag are overly broad.
Goguen, a teenager from Massachusetts, was arrested by police for wearing a small cloth US flag on the seat of his pants. When arrested, Goguen was standing on the sidewalk, talking; he was not engaged in any demonstration. Goguen was convicted and sentenced to 6 months in jail for violating a flag desecration law encompassing anyone who treats the flag "contemptuously". His conviction was upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Assisted by the ACLU, Goguen appealed to the Federal court, and the Federal court overturned his conviction. Massachusetts appealed to the US Supreme Court.
Opinion of the Court
The Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 decision, sided with Goguen, and ruled that the statute was too vague. The Court partially relied on prior decisions which prohibited states from compelling people to salute the flag: "neither the United States nor any State may require any individual to salute or express favorable attitudes toward the flag."
- West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)
- Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931)
- Text of Smith v. Goguen, 415 U.S. 566 (1974) is available from: CourtListener Findlaw Google Scholar Justia Library of Congress Oyez (oral argument audio)