Melville Nimmer, lawyer: "What this young man did, was to walk through a courthouse corridor in Los Angeles County on his way to a courtroom where he had some business...While walking through that corridor, he was wearing a jacket upon which were inscribed the words Fuck the Draft. Also were inscribed the words Stop War and several peace symbols. When he entered the courtroom he took off his jacket and held it folded. When he left the courtroom, he was arrested for disturbing the peace: specifically, engaging in tumultuous and offensive conduct."
Chief Justice Warren Burger: "In this respect it's no different, is it, from what it would be if he'd been picked up out on the street in front of the building or in any other public place?"
Melville Nimmer: "Exactly, Mr. Chief Justice...I think it's important at the outset to point out to the Court that there was no violence, no component of violence, present. It is stated in the settled statement signed by the trial judge that the appellant did not engage in violence, did not threaten violence, that no one observing him engaged in violence or threatened violence. So the violence component is completely out.
And I suggest that that is terribly significant for the broader significance of this case. Pointing out, as it does, as it can do, depending upon this Court's decision, the very vital distinction between dissent -- which may be offensive to people; some people may not like it -- but non-violent dissent and violent dissent: a distinction that, all too often, members of the younger generation tend to forget. They tend to equate violent dissent and dissent that may be regarded as objectionable or offensive. It is terribly important, we submit, Your Honors, that this Court may clear that distinction -- that dissent, by its very nature, involves the right to be offensive. Non-offensive dissent is almost a contradiction in terms, because if it's not offensive it means you agree with it. But on the other hand, violent dissent is something quite different. And the facts of this case point out precisely that distinction."