Beauharnais v. Illinois 343 U.S. 250 (1952)

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BEAUHARNAIS v. ILLINOIS 343 U.S. 250 (1952)

The Supreme Court upheld, 5–4, an Illinois group libel statute that forbade publications depicting a racial or religious group as depraved or lacking in virtue. Justice felix frankfurter first argued that certain categories of speech including libel had traditionally been excluded from first amendment protection, and he then deferred to the legislative judgment redefining libel to include defamation of groups as well as individuals. By mixing excluded-categories arguments with arguments for judicial deference to legislative judgments for which there is a rational basis, the opinion moves toward a position in which the relative merits of a particular speech are weighed against the social interests protected by the statute, with the ultimate constitutional balance heavily weighted in favor of whatever balance the legislature has struck. Although Beauharnais has not been overruled, its continued validity is doubtful after new york times v. sullivan (1964).

Martin Shapiro

(see also: Freedom of Speech.)

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Beauharnais v. Illinois 343 U.S. 250 (1952)

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Beauharnais v. Illinois 343 U.S. 250 (1952)