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SPENCE V. WASHINGTON, 418 U. S. 405 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405 (1974)

Spence v. Washington

No. 72-1690

Argued January 9, 1974

Decided June 25, 1974

418 U.S. 405


For displaying out of his apartment window a United States flag upside down with a peace symbol taped thereto, appellant was convicted under Washington's "improper use" statute forbidding the exhibition of a United States flag to which is attached or superimposed figures, symbols, or other extraneous material. He testified without contradiction at his trial that he thus displayed his flag as a protest against then-recent actions in Cambodia and fatal events at Kent State University, and that his purpose was to associate the American flag with peace instead of war and violence. The Washington Supreme Court sustained the conviction, rejecting appellant's contention, inter alia, that the improper use statute, on its face and as applied, contravened the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Held: The statute, as applied to appellant's activity, impermissibly infringed a form of protected expression.

81 Wash.2d 788, 506 P.2d 293, reversed.

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