a. Beauharnais was decided prior to New York Times v. Sullivan,
which held that the First Am. protected certain instances of libel
(i.e., between a government official, who is the plaintiff, and a
private party, who is the defendant, and where D lacks knowledge or
recklessly disregards that the statement is false).
b. Cohen—with its discussion of “averting eyes” and the “captive
audience”—provided an exception to the notion that “insulting”
language is never protected under the First Am.
c. In the last few decades, Beauharnais has been discredited.
In the Skokie case (Collin v. Smith), the Court said that hate speech
is “indistinguishable in principle from speech that [invites]
dispute…induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with
conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Yet these are
among the ‘high’ purposes of the First Am.”
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