United States Supreme Court
TERMINIELLO V. CITY OF CHICAGO, (1949)
Argued: February 1, 1949 Decided: May 16, 1949
- '* * * The same people who hate Father Coughlin hate Father Terminiello. They have persecuted him, hounded him, threatened him, but he has remained unaffected by their anti-Christian campaign against him. You will hear all sorts of reports concerning Father Terminiello. But remember that he is a Priest in good standing and a fearless lover of Christ and America.'
- '* * * We got there (the meeting place) approximately fifteen or twenty minutes past eight. The car stopped at the front entrance. There was a [337 U.S. 1 , 15] crowd of three or four hundred congregated there shouting and cursing and picketing. * * *
- 'When we got there the pickets were not marching; th y were body to body and covered the sidewalk completely, some on the steps so that we had to form a flying wedge to get through. Police escorted us to the building, and I noticed four or five others there.
- 'They called us 'God damned Fascists, Nazis, ought to hang the so and sos.' When I entered the building I heard the howls of the people outside . * * * There were four or five plain clothes officers standing at the entrance to the stage and three or four at the entrance to the back door.
- 'The officers threatened that if they broke the door again they would arrest them and every time they opened the door a little to look out something was thrown at the officers, including ice-picks and rocks.
- 'A number of times the door was broken, was partly broken through. There were doors open this way and they partly opened and the officers looked out two or three times and each time ice-picks, stones and bottles were thrown at the police at the door. I took my place on the stage, before this I was about ten or fifteen minutes in the body of the hall.
- 'I saw a number of windows broken by stones or missiles. I saw the back door being forced open, pushed open.
- 'The front door was broken partly open after the doors were closed. There were about seven people seated on the stage. Smith opened the meeting with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and singing of America. There were other speakers who spoke before me and before I spoke I heard things happening in the hall and coming from the outside. [337 U.S. 1 , 16] 'I saw rocks being thrown through windows and that continued throughout at least the first half of the meeting, probably longer, and again attempts were made to force the front door, rather the front door was forced partly. The howling continued on the outside, cursing could be heard audibly in the hall at times. Police were rushing in and out of the front door protecting the front door, and there was a general commotion, all kinds of noises and violence-all from the outside.
- 'Between the time the first speaker spoke and I spoke, stones and bricks were thrown in all the time. I started to speak about 35 or 40 minutes after the meeting started, a little later than nine o'clock. * * *'
- 'Father Terminiello: Now, I am going to whisper my greetings to you, Fellow Christians. I will interpret it. I said, 'Fellow Christians,' and I suppose there are some of the scum got in by mistake, so I want to tell a story about the scum:
- '* * * And nothing I could say tonight could begin to express the contempt I have for the slimy scum that got in by mistake.
- '* * * The subject I want to talk to you tonight about is the attempt that is going on right outside this hall tonight, the attempt that is going on to destroy America by revolution. * * *
- ' y friends, it is no longer true that it can't happen here. It is happening here, and it only depends upon you, good people, who are here tonight, depends upon all of us together, as Mr. Smith said. The tide is changing, and if you and I turn and run from that tide, we will all be drowned in this tidal wave of Communism which is going over the world.
- '* * * I am not going to talk to you about the menace of Communism, which is already accomplished, in Russia, where from eight to fifteen million people were murdered in cold blood by their own countrymen, and millions more through Eastern Europe at the close of the war are being murdered by these murderous Russians, hurt, being raped and sent into slavery. That is what they want for you, that howling mob outside.
- 'I know I was told one time that my winter quarters were ready for me in Siberia. I was told that. Now, I am talking about the fifty-seven varieties that we have in America, and we have fifty-seven varieties of pinks and reds and pastel shades in this country; and all of it can be traced back to the [337 U.S. 1 , 18] twelve years we spent under the New Deal, because that was the build-up for what is going on in the world today.
- 'Now, Russia promised us we would ga (sic) back to the official newspaper of Russia. Primarily it was back about 1929. They quoted the words of George E. Dimitroff, who at that time was the Executive Secretary of the Communist International. I only quote you this one passage. I could quote thousands of paragraphs for you. Let me quote you: 'You worldwide nature of our program is not mere talk, but an all embracing blood-soaked reality.' That is what they want for us, a blood-soaked reality but it was promised to us by the crystal gazers in Washington; and you know what I mean by the 'crystal gazers,' I presume.
- 'First of all, we had Queen Eleanor. Mr. Smith said, 'Queen Eleanor is now one of the world's communists. She is one who said this-imagine, coming from the spouse of the former President of the United States for twelve long years-this is what she said: 'The war is but a step in the revolution. The war is but one step in the revolution, and we know who started the war.'
- 'Then we have Henry Adolph Wallace, the sixty million job magician. You know we only need fifty-four million jobs in America and everybody would be working. He wants sixty million jobs, because some of the bureaucrats want two jobs apiece. Here he is, what he says about revolution: 'We are in for a profound revolution. Those of us who realize the inevitableness of the revolution, and are anxious that it be gradual and bloodless instead of somewhat bloody. Of course, if necessary, we will have it more bloody.' [337 U.S. 1 , 19] 'And then Chief Justice Stone had this to say: 'A way has been found for the effective suppression of speeches and press and religion, despite constitutional guarantee,'-from the Chief Justice, from the Chief Justice of the United States.
- 'Now, my friends, they are planning another ruse; and if it ever happens to this cou-try (sic), God help America. They are going to try to put into Mr. Edgar Hoover's position a man by the name of George Swarzwald. I think even those who were uneducated on so-called sedition charges, that the majority of the individuals in this department, that Christ-like men and women who realize today what is going on in this country, men who are in this audience today, who want to know the names of those people, before they are outside, they want to know the names if any. Did you hear any tonight that you recognize? Most of them probably are imported. They are imported from Russia, certainly. If you know the names, please send them to me immediately. * * *
- '* * * Didn't you ever read the Morgenthau plan for the starvation of little babies and pregnant women in Germany? Whatever could a child that is born have to do with Hitler or anyone else at the beginning of the war? Why should every child in Germany today not live to be more than two or three months of age? Because M rgenthau wants it that way, and so did F.D. R. * * * You will know who is behind it when I tell you the story of a doctor in Akron, Ohio. He boasted to a friend of mine within the last few days, while he was in the service of this country as a doctor, he and others of his kind made it a practice-now, this was not only one man-made it a practice to amputate the limbs of every German they came in contact with when- [337 U.S. 1 , 20] ever they could get away with it; so, that they could never carry a gun. Imagine men of that caliber, sworn to serve this beautiful country of ours, why should we tolerate them?
- 'My friends, this moment someone reminded me of the plan to sterilize them. The nurses, they tell me are going to inject diseases in them, syphilis and other diseases in every one that came there all of one race, all non-Christians.
- 'Now, we are going to get the threats of the people of Argentine, the people of Spain. We have now declared, according to our officials, to have declared Franco to have taken the place of Hitler. Franco was the savior of what was left of Europe.
- 'Now, let me say, I am going to talk about-I almost said, about the Jews. Of course, I would not want to say that. However, I am going to talk about some Jews. I hope that-I am a Christian minister. We must take a Christian attitude. I don't want you to go from this hall with hatred in your heart for any person, for no person. * * *
- 'Now, this danger which we face-let us call them Zionist Jews if you will, let's call them atheistic, communistic Jewish or Zionist Jews, then let us not fear to condemn them. You remember the Apostles when they went into the upper room after the death of the Master, they went in there, after locking the doors; they closed the windows. (At this time there was a very loud noise as if something was being thrown into the building.)
- 'Don't be disturbed. That happened by the way, while Mr. Gerald Smith was saying 'Our Father who art in heaven;' (just then a rock went through the window.) Do you wonder they were persecuted in other countries in the world? [337 U.S. 1 , 21] 'You know I have always made a study of the psychology, sociology of mob reaction. It is exemplified out there. Remember there has to be a leader to that mob. He is not out there. He is probably across the street, looking out the window. There must be certain things, money, other things, in order to have successful mob action; there must be rhythm. There must be some to beat a cadence. Those mobs are chanting; that is the caveman's chant. They were trained to do it. They were trained this afternoon. They are being led; there will be violence.
- 'That is why I say to you, men, don't you do it. Walk out of here dignified. The police will protect you. Put the women on the inside, where there will be no hurt to them. Just walk; don't stop and argue. * * * They want to picket our meetings. They don't want us to picket their meetings. It is the same kind of tolerance, if we said there was a bedbug in bed, 'We don't care for you,' or if we looked under the bed and found a snake and said, 'I am going to be tolerant and leave the snake there.' We will not be tolerant of that mob out there. We are not going to be tolerant any longer.
- 'We are strong enough. We are not going to be tolerant of their smears any longer. We are going to stand up and dare them to smear us.
- 'So, my friends, since we spent much time tonight trying to quiet the howling mob, I am going to bring my thoughts to a conclusion, and the conclusion is this. We must all be like the Apostles before the coming of the Holy Ghost. We must not lock ourselves in an upper room for fear of the Jews. I speak of the Communistic Zionistic Jew, and those are not American Jews. We don't want them here; we want them to go back where they came from. [337 U.S. 1 , 22] 'Mr. Smith: I would like to ask that Miss Purcell would please go back to the front of the building and contact the police officer in charge of the detail. We are going to adjourn this meeting i and when Miss Purcell comes back and reports to me that the one in charge of the detail believes it is safe for us to go out on the street. I am sure it is. Sit still. We are not going to have anybody move. If there are any chiselers that want to go, we are going to take up an offering for Father Terminiello.
- 'There was further discussion to stimulate this offering which was not reported.)'
- 'There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or 'fighting' words-those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed [337 U.S. 1 , 27] that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality. 'Resort to epithets or personal abuse is not in any proper sense communication of information or opinion safeguarded by the Constitution, and its punishment as a criminal act would raise no question under that instrument.' Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 , 309, 310, 906, 128 A.L.R. 1352.'
- 'The offense known as breach of the peace embraces a great variety of conduct destroying or menacing public order and tranquility. It includes not only violent acts but acts and words likely to produce violence in others. No one would have the hardihood to suggest that the principle of freedom of speech sanctions incitement to riot or that religious liberty connotes the privilege to exhort others to physical attack upon those belonging to another sect. When clear and present danger of riot, disorder, interference with traffic upon the public streets, or other immediate threat to public safety, peace, or other, appears, the power of the State to prevent or punish is obvious.' 310 U.S. 296, 308 , 905, 128 A.L.R. 1352.
- 'I have always been among those who b lieved that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement.' Address at the Institute of France, Paris, May 10, 1919. 2 Selected Literary and Political Papers and Addresses of Woodrow Wilson (1926) 333.