416 U.S. 919 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

LUCAS v. ARKANSAS , 416 U.S. 919 (1974)

416 U.S. 919

Fred Carroll LUCAS and Ronnie Ray Lucas v. State of ARKANSAS.
No. 73-544.

Supreme Court of the United States

April 15, 1974

The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the Supreme Court of Arkansas for further consideration in light of Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974).

(See dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice DOUGLAS in this case and in Karlan v. City of Cincinnati, 73-537, 416 U.S. 924d 280; Kelly v. Ohio, 72-1379, 416 U.S. 923, and Rosen v. California, 72-1738, 416 U.S. 924, 40 L. Ed.2d 280.)

Mr. Justice BLACKMUN, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Mr. Justice REHNQUIST join, dissenting.

A North Little Rock policeman on routine patrol drove his car at midnight through a parking lot adjacent to a motel and restaurant. He heard loud language and thought a fight was in progress. He rolled the window down and heard one of the appellants say, 'Well, there goes the bid, bad mother fucking cops.' He ignored this and slowly drove on. The language grew louder. He pulled over behind a large parking sign. The appellants said, 'Look at the chicken shit mother fucker hide over there behind that sign.' He drove back. The appellants then said 'Now the sorry son-of-a-bitch is going to come back over here.' Petitioners were arrested and convicted of breaching the peace, in violation of Arkansas law. [Footnote 1] The Supreme Court of Arkansas affirmed the convictions. 254 Ark. 584, 494 S.W. 2d 705 (1973).

Page 416 U.S. 919 , 920

The Court today grants certiorari, vacates the state court judgment and remands for consideration in light of Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974). I dissent. The Arkansas Court has already clearly construed 42-1412 to apply only to 'fighting words,' as defined in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 572 (1942), in Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518 (1972), and in Lewis. That court, in Holmes v. State, 135 Ark. 187, 204 S.W. 846 (1918), held that the statute was narrow in its scope. 'It is not sufficient that the language used gives offense to the person to whom or about whom it is addressed, but it must be that which in its ordinary acceptation is calculated to give offense and to arouse to anger.' 135 Ark., at 189, 204 S.W., at 847 ( 1918). In its opinion in this case, the Arkansas Court reaffirmed its prior interpretation of the statute:

    'As we construe 41-1412 it is narrowed to 'fighting words' addressed to, toward, or about another person in his presence or hearing, which language in its common acceptation is calculated to arouse to anger th person about or to whom it is spoken or addressed, or to cause a breach of the peace or an assault. We can conceive of no stronger 'fighting words' then those employed by the appellants in this case, and there is substantial evidence they were calculated to arouse to anger the officer to whom they were spoken or addressed. As a matter of fact that appellant, Fred Lucas, admits that if the mildest of the epithets employed by him, were directed to or about him, it would arouse him to anger.' 254 Ark. at 589-590, 494 S.W.2d at 708.

I am at a loss to understand what this Court further requires in a narrowing interpretation under its version of the Chaplinsky standard espoused in gooding. [Footnote 2] Apparently, [416 U.S. 919 , 921]

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