According to the court, the state had no good reasons to convict Sydney Street of a crime after he burned an American flag. Justice Harlan says that the state cannot suppress speech to protect "the sensibilities of passers-by who might be shocked by appellant's words about the American flag" or to force Street "regardless of the impact of his words upon others, [to show] proper respect for our national emblem."
Justice John Marshall Harlan II writes:
"We have no doubt that the constitutionally guaranteed "freedom to be intellectually...diverse or even contrary," and the "right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order," encompass the freedom to express publicly one's opinions about our flag, including those opinions which are defiant or contemptuous."
Read More: Street v New York