Missouri Constitution

Article I
BILL OF RIGHTS
Section 8

August 28, 2013



Freedom of speech--evidence of truth in defamation actions--province of jury.

Section 8. That no law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech, no matter by what means communicated: that every person shall be free to say, write or publish, or otherwise communicate whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuses of that liberty; and that in all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in suits and prosecutions for libel the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the facts.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, 14.

(1951) Where employees at election under federal law had rejected union as their representative, picketing of employer for purpose of coercing employer to recognize such union was unlawful and consequently not within protection of free speech provisions. Kincaid-Webber Motor Co. v. Quinn, 362 Mo. 375, 241 S.W.2d 886.

(1952) Picketing, for the purpose of coercing employer to sign contract recognizing as exclusive collective bargaining agent a labor organization of which only small minority of employees of such employer were members, was for an unlawful purpose under federal statute and therefore could be restrained without violating free speech guarantees of constitution. Katz Drug Co. v. Kavner (Mo.), 249 S.W.2d 166.

(1955) Petition in libel action is subject to motion to dismiss but the function of the court is limited to a determination of whether the alleged libelous matter set forth in petition is capable of defamatory meaning. Coots v. Payton, 365 Mo. 180, 280 S.W.2d 47.

(1955) Where evidence disclosed no reasonable objective of peaceful picketing other than to cause the employer to violate its employees' rights by coercing them into union membership it was unlawful and would be enjoined. Bellerive Country Club v. McVey, 365 Mo. 477, 284 S.W.2d 492.

(1956) Where one union was certified by federal authorities as bargaining representative of employees, another union, its officers and a newspaper publisher, who circulated pamphlets stating that members of the second union were not employed by the employer and urging the public not to purchase the employer's products for the purpose of preventing the sale of such products were engaging in an unlawful boycott and such circulation may be enjoined. Adams Dairy, Inc. v. Burke (Mo.), 293 S.W.2d 281.

(1961) City ordinance denouncing the offense of selling, attempting to sell, or possessing with the intent to sell, obscene literature held unconstitutional because it did not require proof of knowledge of the person so possessing or selling such matter as an element of the offense. City of St. Louis v. Williams (Mo.), 343 S.W.2d 16. Reversed, 367 U.S. 717, 81 S. Ct. 1708. (See also Mo. L. Rev., Vol. XXVI, p. 501 for note.)

(1964) It is proper for the court to instruct the jury to the general effect that even though the court has instructed them on the question of libel or no libel the constitution gives them the right to determine the law and the facts on that issue. Dyer v. Globe-Democrat Publishing Co. (Mo.), 378 S.W.2d 570.

(1969) Public employer could not lay off or reduce pay of municipal employees to intimidate them for joining labor organization. State ex rel. Missey v. City of Cabool (Mo.), 441 S.W.2d 35.


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