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  • O'Brien burns his draft card as a symbol of his opinion against the war. It is considered illegal to burn a draft card; however, he states he was using his freedom of speech and expression.
  • US -vs- O'Brien
  • He first went to a local Boston court before repealing the case. 
  • After the Boston court, the case moved to the US Court of Appeals.
  • By: Kate G
  • The case was repealed again and ultimatly reached the US Supreme Court.
  • The outcome of the case was 7-1 against O'Brien, with one concurrence from Justice Harlan and one dissent from Justice Douglas. The constitutional issue at stake was whether or not O'Brien's 1st Amendment rights covered his action of burning the draft card; it was reasoned that since the draft is a governmental program, the government could intervene. O'Brien was not arrested for speaking out against the Vietnam War, but for the mutilation of his draft card, which is a crime.
  • O'Brien was found guilty for his crime. This case is a "landmark case" because it set the basis for how future rulings regarding freedom of speech and expression would be addressed. In addition, if the Supreme Court Justices had sided with O'Brien, many other men with draft cards would have mutilated theirs as well, which would have created an unruly riot. Overall, the Supreme Court made a big decision that has affected citizens' acts of symbolism and freedom of speech today. 
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