S.D. Court to Decide If Profanity is Protected

September 30, 2008

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments over whether yelling profanities at a passing police officer is protected speech under the U.S. Constitution.

Attorneys for Marcus Suhn argued the First and 14th Amendments protected him and a misdemeanor disorderly conduct conviction should be overturned. He appealed to the high court after being convicted for a Sept. 2, 2007, exchange with police officer David Gibson.

But Assistant Attorney General Ann Meyer countered that a lower court judge was right in concluding Suhn’s exclamations fell under the “fighting words” exception of the First Amendment.

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