Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952)
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In Beauharnais, the Supreme Court upheld an Illinois law outlawing any publication or exhibition depicting "depravity, criminality, unchastity, or lack of virtue of a class of citizens of any race, color, creed or religion." Joseph Beauharnais was convicted under this law for distributing leaflets protesting the encroachment of blacks into white Chicago neighborhoods. In his majority opinion Frankfurter argued that Beauharnais's leaflets were libelous, and therefore were not protected by First and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Black's dissent argues that the law in question was overbroad and permitted regulation far beyond the narrow criteria of criminal libel. In this case, Black argues, Beauharnais's speech, however objectionable, was "a genuine effort to petition [his] elected representatives" and therefore ought to have the protection of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.