Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state
was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government
the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty
both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to the secret of happiness
and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think
as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery
and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion
would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate
protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest
menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political
duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.
They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But
they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment
for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and
imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that
hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity
to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the
fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of
reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced
by law-the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional
tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that
free speech and assembly should be guaranteed.
Supreme Court of the United States
PEOPLE OF STATE OF CALIFORNIA.
Reargued March 18, 1926.
Decided May 16, 1927.