HALTER V. NEBRASKA, 205 U. S. 34 (1907)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Halter v. Nebraska, 205 U.S. 34 (1907)

Halter v. Nebraska

No. 174

Submitted January 23, 1907

Decided March 4, 1907

205 U.S. 34


A long established and steadily adhered to principle of constitutional construction precludes a judicial tribunal from holding a legislative enactment, federal or state, unconstitutional and void unless it is manifestly so.

Except as restrained by its own fundamental law or by the supreme law of the land, a state possesses all legislative power consistent with a republican form of government, and it may by legislation provide not only for the health, morals and safety of its people, but for the common good as involved in their wellbeing, peace, happiness and prosperity.

There are matters which, by congressional legislation, may be brought within the exclusive control of the national government but over which, in the absence of such legislation, the state may exert some control in the interest of its own people, and although the national flag of the United States is the emblem of national sovereignty and a congressional enactment in regard to its use might supersede state legislation in regard thereto, until Congress does act, a state has power to prohibit the use of the national flag for advertising purposes within its jurisdiction.

The privileges of citizenship and the rights inhering in personal liberty are subject in their enjoyment to such reasonable restraints as may be required for the public good, and no one has a right of property to use the nation's emblem for individual purposes.

A state may consistently make a classification among its people based on some reasonable ground which bears a just and proper relation to the classification and is not arbitrary.

The statute of Nebraska preventing and punishing the desecration of the flag of the United States and prohibiting the sale of articles upon which there is a representation of the flag for advertising purposes is not unconstitutional

Page 205 U. S. 35

either as depriving the owner of such articles of his property without due process of law, or as denying him the equal protection of the laws because of the exception from the operation of the statute of newspapers, periodicals, or books upon which the flag may be represented if disconnected from any advertisement.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of the act of Nebraska to prevent and punish the desecration of the flag of the United States, are stated in the opinion.

Page 205 U. S. 37

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