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By Deborah Fisher, published on February 6, 2023

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Members of National Socialist Party of America led by Frank Collin, second from right, address police-marshaled crowd in Chicago's Marquette Park July 9, 1978. After a short speech, the Nazis left the park, some 50 minutes after the rally began. A police spokesman said there were several incidents of rock and bottle throwing, but crowd of more than 2,000 "generally behaved itself." (AP Photo, used with permission from The Associated Press)

One of the first Supreme Court decisions in the ongoing debate about limiting hate speech was in 1978.


It involved the desire of the National Socialist Party, which wore swastikas and promoted white power, to march in the predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie. Eventually, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the display of swastikas did not constitute fighting words and thus the enjoining of that speech was an unconstitutional prior restraint. 


The scholarly debate concerning the regulation of hate speech flared again in the late 1980s, primarily focusing on campus speech codes, pitting those who view regulation of hate speech as a necessary step toward social equality against those who see hate speech regulations as abridgements of the fundamental right of free speech.


Read more about hate speech in these encyclopedia articles:


Overview of hate speech and the First Amendment


Campus Speech Codes


Critical Race Theory


Fighting Words


True Threats


Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009)


Related Court Cases:


Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)


Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party of America (Ill) (1978)


Cohen v. California (1971)


R.A.V. v. St. Paul (1992)


Virginia v. Black (2003)


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