The Supreme Court: Burning Words, Yes Burning Cards, No

After publicly burning his draft card as a "symbolic protest" in Manhattan in 1965, Roman Catholic Pacifist David J. Miller, 24, became the first person to be convicted under a new law that makes card burning punishable by a $10,000 fine or five years' imprisonment, or both. When Miller appealed his suspended three-year sentence, he argued that Congress had enacted the law deliberately to suppress dissent. Indeed, the bill's proponents made no secret of the fact that it was aimed at "beatniks"—meaning critics of the U.S. war effort in Viet Nam.

Last fall Miller lost his case in...

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