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The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.
Petitioner was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan and was convicted by the Ohio courts after a television news report was aired broadcasting speeches made by petitioner. He was charged with violating Ohio's criminal syndicalism statute, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2923.13, which made it unlawful, inter alia, to advocate crime or methods of terrorism or to voluntarily assembly with any group to teach or advocate doctrines of syndicalism. His conviction was upheld on appeal by the Supreme Court of Ohio. The United States Supreme Court granted review and reversed petitioner's conviction.
Is the statute upon which petitioner was convicted unconstitutional?
Ohio's criminal syndicalism statute did not draw a distinction between teaching the need for force or violence and preparing a group for violent action, hence the statute unconstitutionally intruded on the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Const. amends. I and XIV.